The Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC) announced on July 12 that a new ownership group would inject a much-needed dose of excitement into the Houston sports market by creating a brand-new women’s tackle football team. The Heat has represented Houston in the WNFC competition since the league’s foundation in 2019. The WNFC and the Houston Heat ended their involvement following the 2022 season.
“This is an unprecedented time for women and girls in sports, and this is a monumental moment for the progression of women’s football,” Odessa Jenkins, league owner and CEO, said in a press release. “This ownership group signals so much for the WNFC. I am proud to see a group of black entrepreneurs/leaders get the chance to make their mark on such an important sports market.”
Jenkins noted that Houston is a hub for professional sports teams and said, “I am honored that the group is committed to delivering another powerhouse WNFC franchise. The future for women and girls in sports in Houston just got brighter.”
Several WNFC stars head the ownership group founding a new team, including veteran players Teryni Dash and Khlye Jamerson. Current star wide receiver Kesha Smith will join the ownership group with her brother, current NFL star DeAndre Hopkins.
“It is such a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to join the WNFC and give women’s football in Houston a fresh start,” the ownership group said in a statement.” The group is excited about what the future holds for the new team. “With collective efforts,” the press release said, “We truly have the vision, drive, will, and desire it takes to build an amazing franchise and new home for the great athletes in the WNFC! There is no time like the present!”
Details about the team are still being finalized. The WNFC will release the name, logo, and other information in a future press release.
The new team will take over in the Houston market for the 2023 season, adding intrigue to the growing women’s tackle football league. Through three seasons, the Houston Heat were members of the Atlantic Conference, which will also welcome a new team in a new market in 2023.
While details have yet to be finalized, there is a good chance that the new Houston franchise will debut as part of the Pacific Conference, helping to balance the competition between the two divisions. The latest franchise that will join the league was announced during the IX Cup Championship weekend in June. The Tennessee Trojans were accepted into the league after a lengthy vetting process.
If Houston’s new franchise plays for the Pacific Conference, both divisions will total nine teams. In 2022, the Atlantic Conference included nine teams against only eight in the Pacific.
The former Houston Heat struggled to succeed in their three seasons with the WNFC. The team went 1-5 in the 2019 and 2021 seasons, logging wins over two teams that also no longer compete in the WNFC. In 2022, the Heat failed to win a single game. The WNFC canceled the 2021 season due to COVID-19 disruptions.
Creating a new team in Houston will keep two teams in the Lone Star State. The three-time WNFC IX Cup Championship Texas Elite Spartans are based in the North Dallas area. California is the only other state to host two teams in the league, home to the Los Angeles Legends and the San Diego Rebellion.