Throughout the 2021 season, every offense that faced the Texas Elite Spartans had to contend with one simple fact: the Spartans’ defensive unit is a beast. They’ve been described as a Goliath in women’s tackle football, but outside Linebacker Deana Guidry told me that isn’t an accurate description at all.
“One of my coaches said we aren’t a Goliath, we are lots of Davids all working together to be a Goliath, and that’s the most perfect description I can think of,” Guidry said.
In the season, the defense accomplished one feat that is practically unheard of at any level of sports, let alone professional football — no team scored during the regular season. Making that particular stat line even more absurd — it’s the second consecutive season no team managed to put points on the board.
Women’s tackle football has been around for quite some time, but the Women’s National Football Conference only got its start in 2018. Texas won the championship that season and looked to repeat in 2020 only to see Covid-19 derail the season before it got underway. While many start-up leagues around the country floundered and failed, the WNFC tightened its belt and stayed ready.
Guidry got her start in football as the daughter of a high school football coach in Illinois. She said that sometimes her babysitter would have football practice where she would watch the older boys play while her dad coached. She said that her love for the game — and the desire to be on the field rather than in the stands — started at those practices.
In high school, Guidry decided to try out for the football team. Guidry and a group of friends attended the team orientation meeting. At the end of the meeting, when it was time to sign up, Guidry and her friends were told to leave.
“For the longest time, I thought it was because I was a girl,” Guidry said. “I found out just a few years ago that wasn’t the reason. In fact, it was because of my dad. I guess the coaches were worried I’d beat up on the guys.”
With football off the table, Guidry joined the Track & Field team where she earned a full-ride scholarship to UCLA. She even had the opportunity to compete in the 2004 U.S. Olympics trials. A fellow UCLA teammate who had moved to Syracuse, NY told her about women’s tackle leagues that were forming in the area and encouraged Guidry to check it out.
In 2005, she tried out for the Los Angeles Amazons of the Women’s Football Alliance. Guidry played from 2005 to 2010 before joining the San Diego Surge in 2011. She won a championship with the Surge in 2012 while playing with screws in her foot from surgery. The injury kept her from truly enjoying the experience and left her feeling as though she didn’t contribute enough toward the victory.
Guidry joined the Texas Elite Spartans in 2019. That year, she suffered a total rupture of her Achilles tendon, an injury that likely would sideline many players. Instead, she fought back into playing shape, telling Head Coach Odessa Jenkins, “just give me until April, I’ll be ready.”
Ready she was, and throughout the season, offenses paid the price against the Spartans’ truly elite defense. Guidry said that the Elite Spartans as a team are successful because everyone puts in the hard work, not just on game day but also in film study and practice.
“Our coaches are amazing,” Guidry said. “We break down film just like an NFL team does to prepare us for each game. I hate to lose, I’m an athlete, and I like to go out and compete. It’s great to show people that women can be aggressive. Our defense outscored our opponents’ offense this year. That’s more than just an accomplishment.”
Guidry said that her favorite moment of the season was watching the game clock tick down to zero in the IX Cup Championship game on August 7 while the offense lined up in the Victory formation.
“Everything else, the sacrifices, physically, mentally, emotionally, it all came to a head,” Guidry said. “I got the reward, and I got to do it with my friends and teammates.”
Her message for young girls and women who have an interest in trying football is simple: do it.
“Don’t just think about it, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or that it’s a boys sport,” Guidry said. “If you have any doubts, get in touch with us, come see our games. We can help each other.”
After many years playing football, some people wondered if Guidry would hang up the cleats after the IX Cup victory.
“Absolutely not,” she replied.