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Nashville women’s football team’s season kicks off in April

After the last of her five children was born, Donita Hines found it more difficult than before to lose the excess pounds she had gained during her pregnancy.

That’s when she decided to tackle a new weight-loss activity.

That was nearly 13 years ago and Hines, 36, is still tackling today.

She’s also still blocking, throwing, running, catching and even kicking as a member of the Music City Mizfits football team.

The Mizfits kick off the season on April 1 at noon against the Huntsville Tigers at Whites Creek High School.

“I had played in a basketball league for women and been able to lose the baby fat after having my other children by doing that,” said Hines, who has played every position on the football field, including kicker, and is currently the starting quarterback. “But it wasn’t coming off as easy the last time, so I knew I had to step it up and do something different. Something a little more intense.”

Intense, as in full pads, full-contact football.

“It’s real football,” said Mizfits coach Don Ragsdale, who also is Hines’ husband. “I tell people who have never seen women’s football that it is like a very high-level high school game.”

The Mizfits play in the Women’s Football Alliance, the world’s largest football league for women with 68 teams.

The league is divided into three levels, according to the number of players on the roster. The Mizfits play on the lowest level with 25 players.

Organized women’s football teams have been in Nashville since 2005, but football still isn’t as popular as basketball, softball, soccer, golf and several other sports among women.

That’s why Hines, who started playing with the Nashville Dream women’s team 12 years ago, has played so many different positions.

“The women’s game could be a lot better, but because a lot of these ladies are just now starting to learn the game they don’t have that type of experience,” Ragsdale said. “And it’s not like we have 40 hours a week to teach them. We have very limited practice time. We just try to focus on the fundamentals.”

Hines, who played basketball, volleyball, golf and ran track at Hunters Lane, is one of the most advanced and experienced players on the roster. She is headed into her second year as quarterback.

“We had people that could actually run the ball and since my husband’s the coach and we needed a quarterback, for a year I trained at the position and last year I got a chance to be the quarterback,” Hines said. “It is stressful. You’ve got to keep everybody calm and remember all the plays, and if you see something going on you have to say something. I like it, but defense is really what I like the most.”

Hines also plays defensive end.

Another player being counted on to play several positions is Anna Grajeda, 25, a native of Mexico whose work visa expires this summer.

“What I’m going to miss more than anything when I leave is being able to play in a women’s football league,” Grajeda said. “I look forward to every practice and I love the games. We don’t have anything like this where I’m from. I will try to get something like this started in my hometown (Chihuahua) when I go back.”

The Mizfits play nine games in the regular season, including four at home. The playoffs begin on June 10.

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