A look at people in our community

My Name Is ... Sara Edwards Rohner, of Centennial

Player formed Australian rules football team Centennial Tigers

Posted

Women's Australian football

I'm 34 years old, and I have lived in Centennial for almost five years. I grew up in the Ken Caryl area.

I have known about Aussie rules (“footy”) for a very long time. My parents used to watch it on ESPN in the '80s. I started playing soccer at a young age and played for my high school, and then I switched to rugby when I was 16 at the urging of a teacher. I played semi-pro and international rugby for about 12 years before I switched to footy. I love the aerobic part of the sport, as well as the full-contact aspect. This game also requires a certain mental toughness that I enjoy as well.

Not on the gridiron

Australian rules football is a full-contact aerobic team sport that started in Australia and gradually grew globally … It doesn't resemble gridiron football much. It has the structure of soccer with defensive, midfield, and offensive lines and the full-contact tackling without pads found in rugby. It requires kicking like in soccer but carrying the ball in your hands, like in rugby. It also has some basketball moments like jump balls, in-air contests and high-scoring games.

Where the Tigers roam

South Suburban Parks and Recreation opens field availability in February, so we haven't nailed down an exact location, but we are hoping to rent field space at Willow Creek Park. The official season begins in May and ends in mid-October. We will practice twice a week: one weekday and one weekend day.

However, we will be doing indoor skills clinics once a month starting in early February during the offseason with the men's national team head coach Tom Ellis at various locations around town. These will be posted on our social media pages and website as dates and times are confirmed.

We officially formed in October and have already hit the ground running.

To join the Tigers

We would absolutely love to add more women to our team — everyone is welcome regardless of game knowledge, skill level or athletic ability. We will teach you how to play the game … The minimum age is 16, and we have women as old as 50 playing. You can find us online at www.centennialtigers.com. Our current email address is CentennialTigersAFC@gmail.com.

Stereotypes abound

“Women can't tackle,” “You're too small,” “You're too old,” “You have a husband and a child — why did you leave them at home and are out here playing football?” are some of the negative comments I've heard over the years. But once I show them how hard I hit, how well I can play the game and how dedicated I am to growing this sport, they usually backtrack on their statements!

Women are much stronger than many believe. I was a shy child growing up and didn't have much self-confidence until I started playing rugby. I realized quickly how mentally and physically strong I actually was. I've witnessed this same transformation happen countless times in so many other women, and it's inspiring.

Been around block

In addition to representing my country in 15s and 7s rugby around the globe, I was named to the All-World Women's Australian Rules Football team in 2014 and trialed with four professional women's footy teams in Australia in 2019! I also played in a footy game eight weeks postpartum after having my son via cesarean. I'm also a photographer and writer.

If you would like to suggest someone for My Name Is ..., or if you would like to be featured in the segment, contact Ellis Arnold at earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com or 303-566-4109.

Sara Edwards Rohner, Centennial Tigers, Centennial Colorado, Australian rules football, My Name Is

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