Roving Roo Reporter
It was June 2018 and the Nashville Kangaroos were busy worrying about hosting the USAFL Central Tournament here in Nashville and getting the very young squad ready to compete. The dream of women’s team was still exactly that: a dream, with the first ever woman having officially joined the Roos a month prior. But on the Sunday before the tournament, when the Rooboys descended on Elmington Park to get some early morning training in preparation for that Saturday, a strange thing happened: four women saw the Roos and asked what was that sport they were playing.
Never afraid of introducing footy to new players, the Roos coaches conducted a 15-minute introduction to footy skills and sent the new recruits out to run the drills with the boys. Lo and behold, not only did they run the entire practice, but they did GREAT! They were so excited that they agreed to come to the Central Tournament six days later, and to the Tuesday and Thursday trainings leading up to Saturday where they played great for the Mid-West All-Stars. With White Line Fever full force, three of them went to Nationals and competed with the Quebec team, and all three were invited to attend the Freedom Camp in March 2019. Two were able to attend.
Not only did these dedicated women work at their own skills throughout the 2019 season, they kept recruiting more women. By the end of the 2019 season, 11 women had trained and played for at least part of the year. This year at Nationals seven(!) Kangaroo women combined with the Columbus Cats, Minnesota Blue Ox, and Tampa Bay Lady Starfish. While they lost the first two matches both by narrow margins, they did close out the campaign with a dominant win on Sunday. But the celebration of that win was not the end of what will be forever remembered as a magical season.
During the half-time of the Division I Men’s Grand Final, the Freedom coaches read off 28 names of the Freedom squad to go to Australia in August 2020 and compete in the International Cup of Australian Rules Football. They also named the 8 Emergency Reserves. When the name of Natalie Smith was announced, the Nashville Kangaroos had its first ever USA Freedom player! As Natalie raced onto the Coopers field with the entire fanbase screaming, her huge and infectious smile could be seen be all. A few names later, Alexa Roncancio was announced as a reserve and she too raced out to join her new teammates in celebration; the Kangaroos have two Freedom players!!
“It’s been an incredible journey and I still can’t believe it! I gave up soccer to make this happen and it did!” gasped Natalie, wearing her new Freedom paraphernalia. “Oh my gosh, it’s amazing! It’s still sooooooo surreal!” gushed Alexa as she tried to soak it all in.
But this is not the end of the journey for these two phenomenal women. It is only just beginning. Now they will work even harder to get ready to compete in Australia against all the other teams from around the world…and they get to do so wearing USA on their jumpers! The Nashville Kangaroos are incredibly proud of what Natalie and Alexa have accomplished and look forward to helping them in every way possible to make their next dream come true – winning the Grand Final at International Cup 2020 in Australia!
CONGRATULATIONS NATALIE AND ALEXA!!!