Legends Football League: “The Journey”

By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )

The fireworks were flashing, the music was pumping and the crowd were on their feet cheering. It was June 2012 and the American LFL All-Stars were playing an exhibition game in Brisbane. Sitting in the stands that night were Brooklyn Jackson and her sister who went along to watch some hard hitting women’s sport. On the way home Brooklyn’s sister said ‘You should do that!’, and they both laughed it off. When they arrived home Brooklyn googled the LFL to see what it was all about. She came across a facebook link that mentioned the upcoming New South Wales LFL trials. Two days later she flew down to Sydney.

Pretty courageous stuff considering Brooklyn had only played sport at school for the social aspect and never really pursued it once she left. So here she was lining up with over 60 athletes in Acer Arena at Homebush. She went through all the required tests and drills however when it came time to announce the successful girls she did not make the cut and missed out on selection.

Waking up the next morning Brooklyn set herself a goal to try again once she was in shape and could prove her worth. It was four days later when she heard about a local Sydney ladies gridiron league that were looking for players so she hooked up with the Bondi team. Considering she had exercised a total of three hours for the whole year it was a surprise that she made it through the first training session with the team. She stated, “It was pretty intense and intimidating amongst such established athletes’.

Her next step was to find a nutritionist to keep her on track. So in the space of a month she went from no training at all to 2-3 nights a week with the Bondi team along with three sprint training sessions for speed. This went on for four months as she stepped up her training to six days a week.

One of the Bondi coaches was Michael Vrcelj who said of Brooklyn, ‘With a white-hot focus and determination to compete and succeed, she would have been elite at anything – this sport just happens to have chosen her, and she thrives on the physicality demanded. Her mental and physical transformations over the past year have been amazing. To quote my old football coach, Brookie epitomizes the, “If it is to be, it is up to me” attitude’.

It was during this time that Brooklyn joined Hybrid Athletic-Development to mould her body into peak physical condition. Within 12 weeks she made some incredible body transformations and was called up to train with the NSW Surge LFL squad.

Joe Kormanyos from Hybrid Athletic-Development had the following to say, ‘Brooklyn lives and breathes training. From novice trainer to a chiseled athlete, she epitomizes what hard work fuelled by big dreams can achieve. It has been a true privilege to guide her on her journey’. Brooklyn says of Joe, ‘He kills me everyday. If I am not training with him, he is calling me up and checking on my diet and where my head is at’. Good friend and training partner, Shani Sleeman added, ‘She’s motivated, a goal setter, a hard worker and the most hyperactive (in a good way) individual I have ever met”.  

The LFL call up was from NSW Surge coaches Jason Gaffey and Teren Tan. Brooklyn was so happy that she rang her family while crying tears of joy down the line. “Receiving that email was the best day of my life, it made me want to work even harder’.

1111111111 Brooklyn initially felt nervous training with the Surge however she now feels right at home. The next step was attending the final trials where more new athletes stepped up to tryout for a coveted spot in the squad. The LFL Commissioner Mitch Mortaza was in attendance. Brooklyn said of the day, ‘I was extremely nervous however I knew that I had done everything possible over the previous 10 months to make sure I was part of the NSW Surge’. She felt triumphant on hearing that she had made the squad saying, ‘It made me realize it was just the beginning of the next episode. There is nothing more I want at this time of my life’.

Brooklyn continued, ‘Never give up on something you can not go a day without thinking about. Since I first saw it, I dreamt it and now I live and breathe it, so hopefully soon I will become it’.

NSW Surge sessions are intense. Every player is chasing their dreams and the chance to be part of the inaugural Australian LFL season. It is pushing them all to a higher level of athleticism and discipline.  Brooklyn thrives under pressure and likes to push herself to the limit and she never thought she would get this far, so every day is a bonus. She adds, ‘Being around such amazing driven people everyday is an absolute pleasure’.

Teren Tan the offensive coach for the Surge is full of praise for Brooklyn, mentioning, ‘”Brooklyn’s journey up until this point is one that should ignite the fire in any potential athlete to set your sights and not stop until you reach your goals. New sport, new style of training and a thirst to succeed can have you setting some vast goals for yourself and Brooklyn keeps doing it and  achieving goals then setting new ones. She is a student of the game who consistently gets better.”

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Fellow Surge teammate Bonnie Gillespie loves having her in the team, ‘Brooklyn is a strong individual that hates the words I can’t! She puts her all into everything she does and she never gives up! She pushes others to reach their goals and that is what I call I true achiever’. Her short term goal is to make the final NSW Surge team that runs out onto the gridiron this December. Long term she wants to be an offensive weapon and protect her Quarterback.

When asked what she would say to other girls considering the Legends Football League she gets excited and says, ‘DO IT! It is the best decision I have ever made. Not just physically but mentally it has made me a stronger woman’.

Brooklyn has come a long way since that night she watched the All-Stars game in June last year. The transformation has been incredible. What you see now is a fit, confident and dedicated young lady who is at her athletic peak.

Make sure you get out to an LFL game this summer. The NSW Surge first game is on Saturday 7th December against the Queensland Brigade. It is sure to take the Country by storm. Just like Brooklyn these women train hard and are sure to entertain the crowds with their athleticism and skill.

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