Tri-Cities Thunder hoping to increase numbers with home playoff games in Bristol

JOHNSON CITY, TN- “Girls have been told their whole life ‘you can’t play football, it’s a man’s sport,” said Tri-Cities Thunder women’s football coach Dave Johnson.

Women on the Tri-Cities’ team are trying to change that narrative, showing they love the game just as much as the men.

“Football is a sport I’ve always loved,” said Jennifer Johnson, a tight end and linebacker for the Thunder. “I never really knew women played football and when I found out I said, ‘hey, that’s me.”

“I’ve always wanted to play football since I was little,” said Katelyn Cox, an ETSU student who is a wide receiver and defensive back for the Thunder. “I grew up going to the (Univeristy of Tennessee) games. I used to watch for fun and now I kind of watch my own positions to try and learn some stuff.”

The Thunder will play in the United State Women’s Football League semifinals on July 15th in Bristol, after suffering just one loss in 2017. Win or lose, the championship game will be held at the Stone Castle, meaning the team has a chance to play for the title on its home field.

“To host this championship at any level is a huge thing, especially for us here,” said Dave. “We’re probably in as small of a market to draw-in players as there is across the country.”

The team has players from all walks of life and hope some home playoff games will increase interest and numbers for next year.

“There’s still so many people that don’t even know that women play football,” said Jennifer. “We have everybody from stay-at-home moms to very career oriented women.”

“We need a lot more, we’re hoping to get a lot more,” said Cox. “Hopefully, people will hear about our playoff championship game and be interested in playing next year.”

The Thunder will play their semifinal game at 7 p.m. in Bristol on July 15th. The championship game will be held on July 29th.

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