The Zulu Warriors are a new team, so to speak. They were a team in women’s flag football two years ago, but the team disbanded and were dormant for a season because of sponsorship issues.
However, their comeback is on and they’ve successfully put together a competitive team for the 2012 Grand Cayman Flag Football Association season. In essence, this will be the Warriors’ second rookie year. Dionne Whittaker is a cornerback, wide receiver and second-string quarterback and she has high hopes for the new year.
“Last month at the Jamboree we pulled off an upset, we beat the defending champion Lady Sharks, we did lose our next game but only because of one mistake,” Whittaker said. “But the win against the Lady Sharks surprised a lot of people, including us.”
The Warriors defeated the Lady Sharks by a score of 14-8, edging out the defending champions by only a single touchdown. That contest took place at the T.E. McField Sports Centre (commonly called the Annex). Nevertheless, a win is a win and Whittaker states that win has propelled all Warrior spirits higher.
“Despite a team full of rookies, we look very promising. These new girls are all really aggressive and it showed during the Jamboree. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by our talent.”
Despite the Zulu Warriors being a new team in the league this year, head coach Rex Whittaker states they have reasonably high expectations.
“We expect to be a very competitive team this year,” Rex said. “We play very hard and we’re going to try and win as many games as possible. Winning a championship would be awesome this year, but for now we’re just going to try and put wins together and see what happens.”
Rex shares the same optimism towards the new season as his wife and star all-purpose player.
“The girls are picking it up very quickly. They’re all learning fast and developing even faster. Some of them aren’t quite used to the contact yet, but after the Jamboree they know what to expect.”
The Warriors squad is full of exciting young talent, sporting such players as rookie pass-rushers Adrianna Christian and Tanjana Campbell. Complimenting the exciting young rookies are a handful of effective veterans who are hoping to lead and mold the rest of their team into championship talent.
Among the established names are starting quarterback Jessica Pawlik, safety Maggie Ebanks and wide receiver/running back Shamar Ennis. Along with Ennis, wide receiver Hortencia Jackson is another offensive weapon for Pawlik to exploit. All are coming from various teams. Pawlik was the quarterback for the now-defunct Chiro Spa Jaguars back in 2010, Ebanks was part of last year’s winning Lady Sharks team and Ennis, along with Dionne Whittaker, played for 2011 runners-up the Dominos Pizza Wolverines.
Rex sounded very confident about his new group of ladies, each of them displaying their own set of skills and smarts, who instilling confidence in the experienced head coach.
“Me and the team are expecting to do very well this year. We’re definitely going to give the teams in this league a run for their money.”
The new-look Zulu Warriors, for all their aforementioned veteran stars, are primarily a rookie squad. Only seven Warrior players are returning while the rest are tackling flag football for the first time in their careers. While Rex is confident in his team’s upset capabilities, he is being cautious of high expectations.
“We’re very good and we’re training very hard, this team is definitely going to leave their mark on the league this year. We’re realistic. We’re going to play hard and see what happens.
“Everybody is excited for the start of the season and some of the girls are making the transition over from different sports. They’re all athletes, that’s for sure. We’re full of talent and we’re all learning but we’ll definitely do well.”
Rex and the Warriors have high hopes for the new season and it remains to be seen if the squad can turn potential into victories.