MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The gridiron erupted in full-fledged inter-service rivalry as the Marine Panthers and Navy Sharks battled it out for year-long bragging rights and the trophy during the Combat Center’s annual powder puff football game at Felix Field May 27.
A powder puff game is one in which roles are reversed. Women take it to the field while the men take on cheerleading.
The game is a great way for the women of the Combat Center to get some competitiveness out of their system, said Tu Tran, the coach for the Panthers.
“It’s one of those things, inter-service rivalry; we want to beat the Navy,” Tran said. “They love competition.”
The Sharks used the game as a fundraiser for their Corpsman Ball later this month, whereas the Marines just came to play for some good, ol’ fashioned, rough-n-rumble fun.
“We have been practicing twice a week for about a month,” Tran said. “We want to win.”
The Sharks said they came to represent what they consider to be a strong minority aboard the installation.
The Navy is a very small group aboard the Combat Center, and being females we are part of an even smaller group, so this is an awesome chance for us to come out here are represent the Navy, said Sheena Hayes, the quarterback for the Sharks.
In the heat of friendly competition, the Marine Panthers jokingly talked up their game before the kick-off. Marine Irina Jones commented, “BAS [battalion aid station] is going to be full in the morning.”
However, the Navy Sharks were prepared with their own battery of remarks. “If we injure them, we have to deal with them in our clinic on Wednesday …that’s what happened last year,” countered Navy player Kameryn Hughes.
With neither team able to claim home field advantage, it started out as anybody’s game. However, the Sharks’ bravado proved to be a false front as soon as the coin was tossed. A combination of aggressive, well executed plays and quick thinking kept the Panthers leading the scoreboard.
The Sharks made a minor attempt at a comeback during the third quarter, but by then, it was too late. The Panthers claimed victory 40-12.
Sergio Romero, the Sharks coach, said he believes this game is an important event the girls look forward to every year.
Tran added he looks at the powder puff game as an opportunity for the girls to showcase their talent on their own stage.
“It’s a great way for the girls to learn [traditionally] male sport,” Tran said, “They watch it, and they [normally] don’t get to play it in an organized fashion.”
The sailors also stay excited for the powder puff game all year, Hughes said.
“This is probably, for the females at the hospital, one of the most fun things we do all year,” Hughes said.
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