Growing up in the village of Forestburg. Tanya Walter tried many sports, including dance. But, she was often scolded for being too rough.
After moving to Edmonton, while working at a local gym, she heard that there was a Team Canada for women’s football. She also saw a billboard for an Edmonton women’s tackle football league.
“It’s very different from other sports,” she says. “It’s very intellectual, and then there’s the physical aspect.”
Football is a mixture of chess and brutal physicality; players have to understand different formations, play calls and even trickery.
Walter understood that, for women’s football to be respected, there had to be crossover. A woman would need to move into the established, male side of the game. She began to coach, and was on the staff at St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School. She coached girls’ minor tackle football and the provincial flag football team.
This year, she became the first woman ever named to a coaching role with a CFL team.
“I never had a finite goal,” she says. “I just took every opportunity I found, and that’s how I ended up here.”
Walter says it’s time to change the narrative about women in football.
“Really, when you start from nothing, growth happens pretty fast. But, with that has to come support — and long-term support, as well. There’s a lot of growth behind the scenes, but, unfortunately, women’s and girls’ football doesn’t get the coverage and the attention, just like most female sports.”
Why She’s Top 40
She makes space for women in a male-dominated sport