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Regina Riot ready for women’s football playoffs

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A Good Samaritan found the team’s stolen jerseys, but not the pants

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With a long break between Regina Riot games, first-year linebacker Alicia Gladue planned a quick trip home to Calgary just a few days before she has to play a football game nearby.

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“I’m actually flying home for the week, which I’m super excited about because I miss my family,” said Gladue, whose team is scheduled to be back in southern Alberta for a WWCFL playoff game Saturday against the Calgary Rage in the long-awaited resumption of their women’s football season.

Because of flooding at Calgary’s Shouldice Athletic Park, the Riot/Rage game has been moved to Cochrane High School. Kickoff is Saturday at 3 p.m.

Recent rains have also forced the Riot to cancel an occasional workout, moving the players and coaches indoors for classroom sessions instead.

“It is a long time between games, but we’ll be ready,” said Riot head coach Kris Hadesbeck, whose primary concern had been finding uniforms for his players after their jerseys were stolen in May.

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“The jerseys were found dumped in an alley beside the Artesian and a Good Samaritan called us and told us he found them.”

Because they couldn’t find the pants, the Riot borrowed jerseys from the junior Regina Thunder. They’re planning to wear Thunder gear again during Saturday’s game. It’s the second time in six years the Riot’s uniforms have been stolen.

Regina hasn’t played since beating the Manitoba Fearless 27-20 on May 26, wrapping up its regular season with a 2-2 record. Manitoba will play the Saskatoon Valkyries in the other semifinal.

Another Winnipeg franchise, the Wolfpack, and the Edmonton Storm recently folded. That left Regina in a three-team league with Manitoba and Saskatoon, while Calgary played games against a short-staffed team in Lethbridge. There has been some discussion about bolstering Calgary’s roster with players from the Lethbridge Steel.

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If Regina defeats Calgary, the Riot plays host to the league final June 23 at Leibel Field, which could unfortunately clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ home opener at Mosaic Stadium.

In four games at middle linebacker, Gladue led her team with 37 defensive tackles. On offence, the Riot is led by quarterback Aimee Kowalski, who has passed for 1,093 yards and 8 touchdowns. Shanelle Rioux had 35 receptions for 570 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Gladue, 18, started playing co-ed football five years ago in an Edmonton-based, co-ed league with the Fort McKay Fighting Spirits, who she believes were “the first all-girls, on-reserve football team in North American history.” She was later one of the first girls to play on her high school squad, the Fort McMurray Saints.

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“I could read the plays pretty easily, so it was just read and react,” said Gladue, who is 5-foot-3 and 170 pounds. “I would never be big enough to play D-line, but not fast enough to play (defensive back). So linebacker has always been my position.”

Her dad, Dylan Elias, coached the Fighting Spirits. He knew Riot offensive coordinator Olivier Eddie from their college careers at Mount Allison, so Elias steered his daughter towards Regina. She quickly bought a car, registered it and drove to Regina, where she has lived with teammates and billets since April.

“They’ve had Team Canada players and Team Canada coaches,” said Gladue. “My dad said it would be great for me in Regina, that I was gonna grow and really get to challenge myself.

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“After the season’s over I’m going back to Alberta for school and stuff. But I think I want to come back next year. I am planning on it as of right now. It’s a great team and it’s been fun.”

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