Laurie Frederick, President and CEO, Independent Women's Football League.
Years in industry
Years in current position
What is the mission of your organization?
The Independent Women's Football League (IWFL), a 501(c)(6) non-profit Texas Corporation, is a full tackle women's football league focused on creating a positive, safe and fun environment for the women who play the game and fans who come out to watch them. The IWFL was founded in 2000 by a group of women dedicated to making the sport a household name. The IWFL currently has 2,987 members including over 1,800 women playing the sport for 51 teams across North America, from Southern California to Montreal and Washington to Florida, with consistent expansion into to new markets.
How many events are held each year?
IWFL teams play 200+ games in 51 markets each season, which culminated this July in the premier event in Round Rock, Texas- the IWFL Championship Weekend, which hosts the battle for the Minor League title of North American Champion. The Major Market World Championships are decided by an All Star game the following day.
In what regions/locations are they held?
Regular Season games are played across the United States and in Montreal, Canada. The complete team list and information on games in your area can be found at www.iwflsports.com/teams.php. The Championship Weekend is held in July in Round Rock, TX (IWFL headquarters location).
As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
Since our sport is still in its building and expanding stage, the most important thing is involvement by the community. Having the Convention and Visitors Bureau work with the teams and the local city officials excited about the presence of a women's tackle football team in their city is integral to our teams' success. It's an exciting endeavor to be involved in and the cities that have supported our teams have enjoyed helping us increase our success.
From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Promotion of the sport and finding suitable facilities to host games. We definitely operate on shoe string budgets compared to most pro leagues, so we rely heavily on word of mouth and grassroots promotions to complement the advertising and promotions we are able to do ourselves. Just getting the media attention has been a challenge in the past.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Strangely enough, it's the unknown. When you are in a growth mode such as this, your path often requires you to zig when you expect to zag all along. We have to react to what we see happening in our sport and think outside the box. For example, as we grew we saw it was necessary to split the IWFL into essentially two leagues to accommodate the interest we had from minor markets as well as major markets As far as I know, no other pro league has done that before. It's exciting to innovate in ways such as that.
Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
Since this league was founded with the attitude that anything is possible, we have capitalized on certain innovations that we may have passed up if we insisted on operating like other pro leagues out there. I pride myself on taking initiative and stepping out a bit. So, I suppose you would call that independence and not being afraid to be different.