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Alumna seeks career on women's pro football team

Growing up with a brother and father who enjoy football, Jennifer Paulk-McGinley had no choice but to watch and learn the game.

But for this Austin Peay State University alumna, the attention she gave to the sport at an early age may have helped her to make the Cincinnati Sizzle womens professional football team.

I have followed the sport for a long time, but there are some things I still dont know, said Paulk-McGinley, who has studied martial arts since 14 and played softball for a number of years.
Growing up with a brother and father who enjoy football, Jennifer Paulk-McGinley had no choice but to watch and learn the game.

But for this Austin Peay State University alumna, the attention she gave to the sport at an early age may have helped her to make the Cincinnati Sizzle women's professional football team.

“I have followed the sport for a long time, but there are some things I still don't know,” said Paulk-McGinley, who has studied martial arts since 14 and played softball for a number of years.

Cincinnati Sizzle competes in the National Women's Football Association (NWFA), according to the team's Web site at www.cincinnatisizzle.com. The squad, coached by former NFL player Ickey Woods, finished the 2006 season with a 3-5 record, coming in second place in the NWFA's northwest division.

The 2007 women's season runs April through June. Now in off-season action, the team is conducting conditioning drills each Sunday morning at LaSalle High School, Cincinnati.

In addition to the weekly drills, Paulk-McGinley is pursuing a master's degree in classical art at the University of Cincinnati after earning a bachelor's degree in Greek last May from APSU.
She learned of the opportunity to play women's football through her landlord.

“He mentioned that his fiancée plays women's professional football,” she said. “I thought, ‘why not?'”

After a grueling first round of tryouts, Paulk-McGinley escaped injuries, but her body was not used to the workout.

“I was sore after tryouts,” Paulk-McGinley said. “I am enjoying this, though. It's hard work, but it's still fun.”

Paulk-McGinley participated in two rounds of tryouts before being named to the team. Player positions have not been decided, she said.

Throughout the adventure, Paulk-McGinley said she has received support from her friends and family.

“My husband thinks it's wonderful that I am doing this,” she said, smiling. “But my dad thinks it's awesome. He tells people, ‘My sons didn't play pro football, but my daughter does.'” -- Melony Leazer