Minnesota Vixen

Minnesota Vixen vs. Chicago Force

The Minnesota Vixen opened its 11th home season with a 55-0 loss to the Chicago Force on April 25, 2009. The Force took only three plays to take the lead for good in the game. On a third-and-three from the Chicago 39, Karyn Silvestri burst through the line, following blockers but making her own moves to evade tacklers, for a 61-yard touchdown. Silvestri added another touchdown as the Force cruised to a 41-0 lead at halftime and added two more touchdowns in the second half.

Karyn Silvestri runs for a 61-yard touchdown
Above: Karyn Silvestri of Chicago runs for a 61-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Below: Angela Griffin of the Vixen runs for a first down. (Photos by Brenda Himrich)
Angela Griffin runs for a first down

The Vixen were part of the original Barnstorming tour in 1999, then a charter member in the Women’s Professional Football League. The team moved to the National Women’s Football League in 2008 (switching from a fall to a spring league) and now are in the Indepedent Women’s Football League. Now playing at Chaska High School, where offensive line player Monica Castaldi is a teacher, the Vixen have also played at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, Delano, Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and Hamline University in St. Paul.

Koula Vang at quarterback and Alicia Drue Barber makes tackle
Clockwise from above left: Koula Vang at quarterback and Alicia “Ice Cold” Mena at fullback for the Vixen; Drew Barber makes a tackle; Martha Dantuma of Chicago; Albiona Zhubi of the Force.
Martha Dantuma
Albiona Zhubi

Players in the football league pay to play in the league and most have day jobs. One, veteran Jodi Wallin, is a public information specialist for St. Paul Regional Water Services. Wallin missed the home opener with an injury, a frequent occurrence for her as she has broken an arm and a foot in addition to having arthroscopic surgery on her right knee to repair a torn meniscus since she began playing for the Vixen in 2002.

A native of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, Wallin played a variety of sports in high school and continued playing softball in college. Her football experience was confined to playing touch football with boys through sixth grade. She enjoyed football but added, “There was no place to do that, and it made me mad that the only reason there was no place to play was that I was a girl.”

Wallin made the Vixen after trying out in 2002, even though she says “I was kind of lousy at it. There was a lot to learn that I didn't know - the intracacies. There was a steep learning curve for me, and there was a steep learning curve for most of the women.”

Kimberly Marks takes touchdown pass from Samantha 'Sami' Grisafe
Above: Kimberly Marks of the Force takes a touchdown pass from Sami Grisafe. Below: Quarterback Emily Evans of the Vixen.
Emily Evans

Many players in the league have had more experience with tackle football. Vixen fullback Alicia “Ice Cold” Mena lettered in both football and wrestling at Humboldt High School in St. Paul.

Chicago Force quarterback Samantha “Sami” Grisafe was a member of her high school team in Redland, California, and played four downs at quarterback in a win over archrival Redlands East Valley High School in 2000.

Gwen Gunter makes tackle
Gwen Gunter makes a tackle for the Vixen.


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