November 12, 2004

Women's Rice Bowl team revels in underdog status

What do you get when you take three dopey male coaches, 15 girls (some of whom are Asian), bubble tea, and football? No, not Asian Idol. It's the women's Rice Bowl team.

"[Our opponents] think we're a bunch of big dorks," head coach Dan Raleigh said. That misconception may help the Chicago newcomers. "Since everyone thinks we're nerdy, they don't expect us to play well," added Raleigh.

With its underdog status, the Chicago team hopes to surprise their competition with talent and a deeper knowledge of the game. For the past two months Raleigh, offensive coordinator Chetan Huded, and defensive coordinator Marc Roulet have been coaching the women's Rice Bowl team. At their semi-weekly practices, coaches put players through rigorous drills, plays are covered, touchdown dances are rehearsed, and bubble tea consumption is required after every practice. "As cheesy as this sounds, I've really formed some great friendships out of this that I wouldn't have otherwise," Chetan said.

Head captain Janice Dantes was instrumental in forming the team, asking Raleigh to coach. Raleigh, familiar with the Rice Bowl through a Filipino ex-girlfriend, agreed and began running practice this fall. Because of Chicago's late start as a newcomer and an entire roster of rookies, the women's team has started at a serious disadvantage. "We've had to teach them a lot of the basics," Roulet said. "But it's really been a ton of fun."

With new jerseys and funny nicknames, Chicago is ready to duke it out this weekend. "The girls are really fired up. Personal ties to the Loyola team have created a healthy rivalry," Raleigh said.

"And some of them can catch," jokingly added Chetan.