Shark Attack

Owner/Quarterback Andra Douglas Is Doing Everything She Can to Keep Her Dream Alive

Andra Douglas has always lovedfootball – but not just from the bleachers.

Named the Professional Female Athlete of 2004 by the Nassau CountySports Commission, she plays quarterback for the New York Sharks, thedefending Independent Women¹s Football League (IWFL) Eastern Conference Champions.

Other New York athletes to be honored with her at the annual event include basketball great Julius Erving, former Jetsquarterback and current sportscaster Boomer Esiason, Rangers Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert, and journalist Frank Deford.

Douglas also owns and manages the Sharks. Four years ago, when the IWFL was formed, all the teams from the previous league were up for sale. No onewanted to purchase the Sharks, so at the last minute Douglas decided she would. She cashed in her 401(k) and paid $20,000 to keep the Sharks alive.

“I just wanted to keep playing. It was our passion; we didn¹t want our dream of tackle football disappearingin front of our eyes,” Douglas said.

Even though she is the team owner, Douglas does not live the imagined glamorous life of schmoozing withcelebrities and ducking the paparazzi¹s cameras. With help from her staff of two, she does everything that is neededto ensure the smooth running of the team, including handling the 42 members’ different personalities.

“I don¹t know how she does it. She manages to carry a lot of hats at the same time but she keeps it all together,” said head coach Ruben Sanchez.

Sanchez describes Douglas¹s style as a mixture of firmness, compassion, and working closely with the girls both on and off the field.

“Andra is fantastic. As an athlete,she is all-around and she supports everyone else when they need her,” said Vivian Alberty, a center who wasa former Olympic diver.

Apart from running the team on a day-to-day basis, Douglas makes practicethree times a week while maintaining herfull-time career as a creative consultant.

“Somehow you make time for the things you love,² she said.

Owning a team these last four years has given Douglas a chance to test herentrepreneurial skills; for her it is just a smidgeon of the overall benefit of beinga sportswoman.

“My mom used to tell me, ‘Don¹t takea backseat to anyone,’ but not until I participatedin sports was I able to put that in action,” said Douglas, who is also aformer executive at Time Warner.

By forming Fins Up! – a foundationfor female athletes that promotes women and girls in competitive teamsports – Douglas hopes to pass on the confidence and sense of self she gainedas a result of participating in sports.

“I really want to do this for the kids coming up and for the women today,” she said, remembering having to playon boys teams because there was no other option. “We should not be competing against men. We should haveour own teams; we are different animals,” she added.

Douglas hopes to introduce new programs at Fins Up! including coach-ing and refereeing seminars, and to collaborate more with other women¹s organizations.

Sanchez praises Douglas¹s managing style, which has included hiring veteran coaches to fully staff the offense and de-fense. He is looking forward to the team¹s performance this coming season, which runs from April through July.

“We have a good combination of players. Our defense is very solid, and offensively we¹re going to be explosive,” he said.

The team is welcoming the return of running back Lakisha Grant, who was outlast season after tearing a ligament in her knee. Grant is a strong, fast runner who is expected to have a major impact on the team¹s overall performance.

Douglas will receive her honor on April 19 at a dinner at the Chateau Briand on Long Island.

“I¹m very flattered and honored to be receiving the award,” Douglas said.”Women have to work way too hard to get acknowledgment in the sports fieldand it just means a lot.”

by Wendy Mbekelu from New York Resident

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *