Port Moody resident among first women in BC Football Hall of Fame

Fame was never on Deb Moore’s radar when she led her Century Plaza Mardi Gras touch football team to six national championships in a row from 1986 to 1991.

But that’s exactly what she and her teammates will achieve Oct. 5 when when they become the first women to be inducted into the BC Football Hall of Fame. 

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The announcement about the honour was made Thursday at BC Place stadium.

Moore, a Port Moody resident, began her touch football career as a receiver after several years playing other competitive sports, including basketball, softball and volleyball. Many of her teammates were also accomplished athletes who were new to the gridiron — one, Debbie Huband, played for Canada’s women’s Olympic basketball team, another was on the national rugby side.

All had been recruited by Colin Farrell and Larry Doan to play in a new Vancouver league that started in 1984.

“We were a superteam,” Moore said.

The women spent two years learning the intricacies of football, studying the playbook, getting comfortable with the game’s nomenclature.

By 1986, Moore said they were ready to compete in the Touch Bowl national championship, which was being held that year at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

It was on the eve of the tournament that Moore’s football career took a decided turn. 

The Mardi Gras quarterback, Laura Stewart, was injured and with Moore’s throwing experience from softball, the football was handed to her.

“I had a good arm,” Moore said. “I could read the defences.”

In fact, Moore’s arm was so good, she earned the nickname “Radar,” as she quarterbacked her team through the tournament undefeated, including a 23-14 win over the Ottawa Voyageurs in the final.

When Stewart returned the next season, the two women platooned the position, with the veteran handling the long-bomb plays and her protégé coming in when precise, short-yardage gains were required.

The combination proved unbeatable for the next five years. But, Moore said, the women didn’t rest on their athletic laurels to retain their status. They practised two or three times a week and studied strategies.

“We were used to competing,” Moore said. “We knew what it took to work hard, persevere and become good.”

Moore said she loved the game so much, she even brought it to her students at Seaforth elementary school in Burnaby, where she taught Grade 7. One of the them was future singing superstar Michael Bublé.

By the early 1990s, the team was starting to break up as players veered into careers and raising families.

But the bond formed by learning and mastering football together, traveling across the country to compete — even playing in an October snowstorm in Ottawa — remains strong, Moore said.

“We made lifelong friendships.”

There have been occasional reunions, including competing at a tournament in the Okanagan several years ago, and in 2011 the team was named to the BC Touch Football Hall of Fame. But being honoured by BC Football Hall of Fame will give all the women a chance to reflect on the significance of their accomplishments, Moore said.

“There’s a lot of talented women out there,” she said. “Women can be in the forefront and be recognized on an equal level as men.”

• Members of the Mardi Gras who will be inducted into the hall, in addition to Moore, include: Berni Batchelor, Andrea Brauner, Marla Britton, Tiffany Chester, Miekel Aichele, Trudy Lyons, Debbie Huband, Calli O’Brien, Laura Stewart, Cathy Bultitude, Robyn McDonald, Sharon Staples, Dawn Storey-Gray, Debbie Osborne, Lynne Leclair, Diane Materi, Cindy Whieldon, Bett Watt, Monique Lizee, Cori Campbell, Cathy Morgan, Annie Hutchinson, Diane Perry, Devona Adam's, Laura Houle and coach Mike Millar.

09/12 — story added names of eight more players and a coach who were also members of Century Plaza Mardi Gras.

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