The Sacramento Sirens: Undefeated and Underfunded

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SACRAMENTO-

The sound of determination was reverberating through Land Park as the Sacramento Sirens got in a practice without pads Tuesday evening.

They're hoping to round out their undefeated season with a Saturday win in Arizona.

That all may sound like the normal state of affairs for any good team at the end of its regular schedule, but with their last game, this women's football team has to tackle more than just the Phantomz of Phoenix.

The team's coaches quit last week, in part because of the Sirens' tight pursestrings.

"That was their explanation. They don't ... that was their explanation," said team owner and center Michelle Wiederhold.

"Arizona was up in the air, just based on trying to get there ... comes up some people are ready to go, some people aren't," said Christy Medinger, a middle linebacker.

And that's because without major sponsorships and overflowing stands for home games at Hughes Stadium, these women have to come up with upward of $2,000 to suit up and get to all of their in- and out-of-state games.

They're doctors and teachers in their off-the-field lives -- not millionaires.

"Everything is pay to play. The ladies love it. They play for the pure sport of it and just the love of the game," Medinger said.

Love is hard to live on -- even harder to play on.

From a heyday of fielding 52 players, the roster is down to just 27, which also increases the per-player cost.

"So if you come out to watch the football, don't go out and compare us to men," said former Siren player and coach Dana McIntyre.

She says getting the sports-loving public over the fact that they're watching women may be a bigger challenge for the team than any on-field opponent.

"Hit-and-run patterns, catch balls, everything. It's  just hard-nose football," she said.

As No. 36 she helped bring Sacramento five championship rings in the team's 15 years.

Even as champs, they had to struggle to get to the games.

"We did crab feeds, car washes," McIntyre said.

It's a trend of fighting for survival, that continues as these women wait for the public's passion to catch up to theirs.

"It is a technical sport -- you gotta be passionate about it and you gotta be aggressive. It's the one place you can be aggressive as a woman and nobody looks down on you.  It's amazing," Wiederhold said.

Some old players have stepped up to help coach this team through their Saturday game.

They've already secured a place in the playoffs, so that means big fundraising to get to Utah.

Look for details on that on the Sirens' Facebook page and at www.thesacramentosirens.com.