They’re elite female athletes in their early 20s to mid-40s. They are restaurant cooks, military personnel, police officers, medical-field workers, teachers, personal trainers and stay-at-home moms. They play their sport solely for the love of the game—and actually, they pay to play, via team fees, equipment costs and travel, offset only in part by fundraisers and business sponsorship. Who are they? The Minnesota Vixen, Minnesota’s all-women professional tackle football team. And Maple Grove is lucky to have a MN Vixen of our own: starting defensive back Andri Vogt.
Vogt was recruited for the team at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. The recruiter, she says, “pulled me out of a crowd and introduced me to the Minnesota Vixen. From that point on, I wanted to work hard to learn a sport I had never thought I’d be able to touch.” She tried out, trained, and played her first MN Vixen game in April. The eight-game season wrapped with playoff and championship games in July. In 2016, the MN Vixen were undefeated in the regular season and are proud of a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league. The team traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina for the championship game and were, unfortunately, defeated. “But we still had the best season in team history,” Vogt say.
The MN Vixen are part of the Independent Women’s Football league (IWFL) which includes about 35 teams, according to Vogt. The Vixen roster numbers 45-53 women, depending on injuries. “We have three players who have been with the team since the inaugural 1999 season, and a couple more that have been with us for more than 13 years. It’s really amazing to have these women on the team,” she says. One of the original players, Red Bryant, has greatly influenced Vogt since they met on Vogt’s first day of training. “Coming into that season with the Vixen, she had just as much fire in her heart for the game as she did in ‘99,” Vogt says.
Vogt, who plays running back as well as defense, never played football “aside from flag football in gym class and my college days,” she admits. She is, however, a life-long athlete. As a child she played on baseball teams with boys in a South Tonka Little League; in her freshman year of high school she switched to softball (starting catcher) and was the goalkeeper in soccer, too. Now, there’s no sport she’d rather play than women’s tackle football. “Every day I come to the field, I want to improve. I want to become better with every rep and learn from every mistake. I play because I fell in love with this sport. I fell in love with this team,” she says.
Although the MN Vixen have “a fan or two from Maple Grove,” Vogt feels that the word isn’t quite out yet about professional women’s football. The team’s home field is at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, and Vogt invites everyone to attend next summer’s home games (admission is $12). “We have food trucks, merchandise, Superfans, and much more. [The games] are a blast,” Vogt says. “Or so I’ve heard. I’m usually quite busy on the field,” she adds with a smile.
Vixen games begin next summer on Saturdays at 6 p.m.
In the meantime, you can watch live-streamed videos on Town Square Channel TV.