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Celebrating International Women's Day

Sunday is International Women's Day, and we want to celebrate game-changers in the XFL:

Making the Right Call: The Story Behind the XFL's Female Officials

A young girl in Iowa noticed someone she’d never seen at a football game before. The revelation led to an email sent to the Big Ten office.

A week or so later, the contents of that email were shared with Amanda Sauer-Cook. The full-time mother of three daughters had a new fan ... and new friend.

“All she wanted to do was be my pen pal because she had never seen a woman out on the field,” Sauer-Cook said. “It made her so excited. For Halloween she was an official and her goal is to be an official.

“She and I are little pen pals now. Just the fact that there’s one, she knows she can do this now. And who knows how many other girls are thinking the same. This is really awesome.”

Sauer-Cook is one of six female officials working in the XFL this season, joining Robin DeLorenzoTangela Mitchell-RossLaShell NelsonSebrina Brunson and Maia Chaka. Each officiating crew for every XFL game has at least one woman member, a unique distinction in a field still dominated by men. The league also employs replay judge Terri Valenti, one of the female pioneers in football officiating.

The reasoning behind the influx of females isn’t some hollow affirmative-action ploy, according to XFL head of officiating Dean Blandino. He has a long history of championing diversity, going back to his days as the NFL’s vice president of officiating.

Read more.


Scaramuzzo Jones Makes Immeasurable Impact

It is around 1 p.m. on a frigid Wednesday afternoon in northern New Jersey, and the toughest person in the XFL stalks the New York Guardians sidelines.

Darius Victor has snuck his way into a calisthenics drill at practice. It is nothing particularly taxing, but for a running back packing 226 pounds onto a 5-foot-6 frame -- and one with a compromised ankle at the moment -- any false step could prove doom.

Victor has his head on a swivel, but not because of a roaming linebacker or a snarling safety.Out of the corner of her eye, Madeleine Scaramuzzo Jones spots the Guardians running back and glares at him with the fire of a thousand suns.

Head athletic trainer Madeleine Scaramuzzo Jones commands respect from Guardians players. (Photo credit: Cos Lymperopoulos)

Victor stops dead in his tracks. He’s caught, and he knows not to test the woman they call Mad Dog.

“Aww, man, it’s her world, we just live in it,” Victor said of the head athletic trainer.

Like having a tail tucked between his legs, Victor shuffles back to the sideline and Scaramuzzo Jones nods.

Read more.


MADAMES PRESIDENT

No Women's Day discussion would be complete without us showing love for professional football's first two female team presidents: the New York Guardians' Janet Duch and the Los Angeles Wildcats' Heather Brooks Karatz.

Catch this profile from The Athletic:


Shot Callers

The XFL’s New York Guardians entered their inaugural season with a tough task on their plate. In a market like New York City, it’s difficult for fledgeling professional sports teams to stand out from the competition.

The organization’s president, Janet Duch, sat down with Ian Thomas from Front Office Sports in the latest episode of Shot Callers to discuss the team’s launch and give her own perspective on taking over a new franchise.

Watch the interview.