The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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The Cleveland Crush of the Legends Football League (LFL) moved to Toledo this year with the hopes of finding a better market for their team. The women’s arena football team was finding it difficult to compete in the Cleveland market against their many professional teams as well as their men’s arena football team.

“I just think they were looking for a smaller city, smaller market, smaller venue. I mean the Q holds 25,000 people and it’s kind of hard to fill that,” explains Crush player Jessica Kott, aka Jessi Lynn.

“Toledo loves its’ sports and we don’t have a football team here. I know I personally was disappointed when the Bullfrogs didn’t come through. I think we could do very well here. We are not full of sports teams and people in this arena really love football,” Kott said.

JessieLynn2 JessieLynnDAughter
Toledo Crush Player
Jessica Lynn(17)
(Press photo by
Scott Grau)
Jessica Lynn's daughter, Makaylah Kott, taking
pride in watching her mother play football at
the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.
(Press photo by Scott Grau)

The 25-year-old Kott is an Oregon native who graduated from Clay High school in 2006. She wears number 17 for the Crush and is an offensive lineman and plays the center and guard position as well as defensive linebacker.

This is Kotts’ first season with the Crush. Having only played football when she was younger with the boys in the neighborhood, Kott never played on an organized team until now.

“I actually saw it on MTV years ago and I thought that it looked interesting; I got an email stating that they were going to be having tryouts in the Toledo area and that they were going to be bringing a team here, so I discussed it with my fiancé and he said go for it. So I went and tried out,” an excited Kott explained.

The players of the LFL play solely for recreation. It is for those with the competitive spirit who have longed for a chance to play the male-dominated sport. Of course there are a few other benefits, Kott said, “The benefits are the fun, the competition, the networking, the level of the exposure that you get because it is a national league and just the love of the game I just tried out because I wanted to play football... The team itself is an absolute blast.”

Kotts admits she had reservations at the start.

“It was interesting because when I first tried out, I wasn’t really sure how a group of girls was going to be. I was thinking there are 20 of us and I’ve never really had a lot of girly girlfriends,” she said. “So it was amazing the way we all just came together and everybody just got along. There was no cattiness; it was like we’re out here to play football. We’re playing a man’s sport. There is no room for emotions and crazy women’s stuff.”

As for the uniform Kott says, “It’s not my favorite. I’ve competed in figure competitions so showing skin really isn’t something that I’m opposed to because I work really hard for my body. So I’m not against it. That’s not my favorite part of it at all but if that’s the way that we have to get on to a larger field and get into a larger focus… you know; it is what it is.”

Recalling her first game, Kott said, “I was a little bit nervous the first game because I wasn’t sure how a hit on that turf was going to feel, but it was a rush being out there so I think your nerves go away pretty quick.”

Although the turnout at the first game against Baltimore at the Huntington Center didn’t draw the numbers they had hoped for, there was still a lot of buzz after the game.

“We had a meet-and-greet afterwards with the fans and people’s reactions were ‘Man I didn’t know what to expect coming into this but this was definitely not it.’ It was definitely a lot more than they anticipated. Even on Ticketmaster, I read a couple of reviews and people were loving it,” she said.

Kott is hopeful for the sport in this area. “I think that it’s something that could take off; once people get in the door and they actually see us play they see the athletic ability shine through and I think they aren’t really concerned with the uniform as much anymore.”

For Kott however playing at the Huntington Center it is not just about the numbers but rather the opportunity, “It’s so fun. I mean it’s the biggest arena I’ve ever played in so it’s almost surreal when you walk out on that field for warm-ups and you look up and you see all of the seats.

“Then when you come out of that tunnel- my heart was just pounding. My adrenalin was rushing,” she said.

Since the league is still in the introductory stage, there are only four games in a season and the Crush has already played one of their two home games. The last home game will be at the Huntington Center Friday July 11 at 8 p.m. versus the Atlanta Steam.

Excitement is brewing for their next match-up as Atlanta will be missing their coveted quarterback Dakota Hughes due to a wrist injury, Kott said.

“If you saw the Baltimore game, they ran on us a lot. Our defense had a really hard time stopping the run. So I think that Atlanta is going to see that and think it’s not going to hurt them at all to be without Dakota,” she said. “So we’ve adjusted our defense so that we’ll be able to stop the run; I’m not sure how good their back-up quarterback is because she’s new as well. I think as long as we can stop the run, we’ll have a pretty good chance, but their offense is solid.”

For more information, visit www.lflus.com/toledocrush or visit the team on Facebook. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, the Huntington Center Box Office, www.huntingtoncentertoledo.com and charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Prices per ticket range from $15-$122.

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