“BLACKOUT” wins the EMS Steel City Kickers 2022 championship, Aug. 14, at Arsenal Field in Lawrenceville. (Photos by Courier photographer Rob Taylor Jr.)
Back on top after losing last year’s title game
On Aug. 14, there was a “Blackout” at Arsenal Field in Lawrenceville.
The 19 women, most of whom are African American, were the last women standing on the field, after a ball kicked by one of the players from the “Diva Dolls” was caught, which meant ballgame.
Which meant championship.
Dressed in black, the team named “Blackout” won the EMS Steel City Kickers women’s kickball league tournament championship over the “Diva Dolls,” 11-2.
It was bittersweet, though, for Ebonie Chestnut, one of the “Blackout” players. She told the New Pittsburgh Courier that her team was in the championship game last year on the same Arsenal Park field, but lost to “Renegade.”
“We’re a little closer together (this year),” Chestnut said. “We knew how to play and we knew this was ours, so we were here to take it.”
“We know how it felt last year when we lost, 3-2,” added “Blackout” head coach Jay Calfee. “So I said, ‘let’s reverse the fortunes and let’s bring this trophy home that you all so deserved.’ They were locked in, they were focused. We knew what we had to do and we went out here and did it.”
“BLACKOUT” PLAYERS NICOLE MORRIS, TILA HARDEMAN, LIZ STEVENS, ANNA GOODE
The EMS Steel City Kickers league was founded in 2015 by Eesha Sheard and Jeffrey O’Kelly, and began with teams such as; “Royal T Divas,” “Pittsburgh Divas,” “Diva Dolls” and “Diamond Divas.” Since then, the league has grown to as many as 13 teams. Sheard, who served as president, died unexpectedly in 2016. Barb Moore then became president, followed by Mylia Jackson. Jackson still serves as president.
The league has been growing, some say soaring. It secured a partnership with Roxamore Sports Network to have its games aired on Roxamore’s social media channels and website. It has multiple sponsors. It has three assistant commissioners in Michael Knight, Renee Robinson and Jaron McLain. Janelle McLain serves as the league’s assistant director of operations.
“BLACKOUT” PLAYERS RHONDA STRICKLAND, SARAH JACKSON, GINA PAGNOTTA
Sunday, Aug. 14, brought the “Final Four” of sorts to Arsenal Park to determine who would be crowned EMS Steel City Kickers 2022 champions. In the semi-finals, the “Diva Dolls” beat “Renegade,” while “Blackout” defeated the “Royal T Divas.” That placed “Blackout” against the “Diva Dolls” for the title.
Nya Morris, one of the stars on “Blackout,” said the championship win felt good because “we’re the most hated team in the league, so we gotta keep doing what we do every day, every week.”
As for Calfee, the head coach, he said the one word to describe his team is “family.”
“The chemistry, the camaraderie…just a band of sisters, blood couldn’t make them any thicker,” Calfee told the Courier. “We work hard, we play hard, we party hard, but at the end of a day, we’re a family.”