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All-woman tackle football team St. Louis Slam wants to win it all – again

St. Louis Slam running back Taylor Hay lowers her shoulder during a 2017 scrimmage against the Derby City Dynamite.
Danny Wicentowski
St. Louis Slam running back Taylor Hay lowers her shoulder during a 2017 scrimmage against the Derby City Dynamite.

For much of the past 13 years, running back Taylor Hay has thrown her 4-foot-10 frame into a scrum of pads, cleats and helmets as part of the championship-winning St. Louis Slam. The team plays in the full-contact Women’s Football Alliance, where the hits are as real as those delivered by NFL players.

But Hay doesn’t mind the hits. Year after year, she keeps coming back for them.

“I still get tossed sometimes,” she said on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air. “Sundays and Mondays are the worst, two days after … but during the game, the adrenaline takes care of all that.”

Founded in 2003, the Slam has racked up an impressive record. The team won its first championship in 2009 and then pulled off back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017.

The domination was no fluke: In 2019, the team notched yet another WFA championship win, but the dynasty was derailed when the pandemic canceled the team’s next two seasons. Now the Slam is back, fielding a squad of game-tested veterans and more than a dozen first-time football players.

On Friday, Hay explained that she joined the team after playing in a semi-pro soccer league that folded in its first year. With the Slam, she found a sport that provided the same athletic connection that she fell in love with as a soccer player — with more hitting, of course.

Hay and the Slam players are not paid like professional football players. They have to raise their own funds to play and travel to games. They also pay for their own equipment, even though the pads and gear aren’t designed for their bodies. Hay says that manufacturers are starting to offer equipment intended for women football players. She’s hopeful for the future of the sport.

“I have a daughter who's 4, and I hope that she gets to play professionally, and gets paid,” she said. “I hope that's what we are the pioneers for.”

The Slam play their home opener this Saturday at St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. For ticket and team information, visit stlslamfootball.com.

Related Event
What: St. Louis Slam vs Derby City Dynamite
When: 7 p.m. April 30
Where: St. Mary’s High School, 4701 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63111

St. Louis Slam succeed in full-contact football

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."

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