Maine Mayhem wraps up season with bowl visit

Members of the Maine Mayhem give the camera attitude.  From left: Ariane Bowie, Jaimee Gammon, Wendy Newton, Elizabeth Sullivan, Alicia Jeffords, Theresa Hendrix, Kristianna Springer, Haylee Graves, Jessikah Lopez and Sam Sargent.

The Maine Mayhem semi-pro women’s football squad out of Gorham is wrapping up its inaugural season in style: Having gone 4-4 this spring, the Mayhem earned the opportunity to visit Charlotte, N.C. from July 21–23 to participate in Championship Weekend.

“The Mayhem have had success this year because of the group of girls who are playing,” said Captain Alicia Jeffords. “The chemistry is not like I have seen on any other team. Their commitment is amazing and the bond we have should be enough to build a very strong team. We work hard and play even harder.”

“This was a very good season,” said head coach Jeremiah Rohner. “I have been fortunate to have a great coaching staff with great knowledge and experience to help me, along with a well-organized board of directors. That, coupled with a group of women who worked extremely hard and were determined to be successful, were all factors in our success.”

The Mayhem is an “affiliate” team of the Independent Women’s Football League – different than a regular “major” team. “The difference is typically roster size,” Jeffords said. “And, as a first year team, entering as an affiliate is typically the way you join the league. We hope to expand our roster so we can compete as a major team in the near future.”

Affiliate teams aren’t able to win as spot in the World Championship, also slated to take place that weekend in N.C. As such, the Mayhem’s particular honor is a matchup in the League’s “Affiliate Bowl,” which kicks off at 10 a.m. on Friday the 22nd. Their opposition in that bout will be the Knoxville Lightning.

“Being in the [Affiliate Bowl] is a tribute to the hard work that everyone in the organization has put in all year,” said Rohner. “For the organization, being successful gives players confidence and helps attract new recruits in the future. Creating a winning culture puts us in a position to be successful for years to come.”

Jeffords (for the sixth time) and several of her teammates have also been selected to take part in Saturday the 23rd’s All-Star game. Jeffords and Paula Beaulieu earned First-Team All-Star honors for their play this season, and Theresa Hendrix, Frankie Curtis and Jessikah Lopez all won Second-Team laurels.

“I am extremely proud of all the women of the Mayhem,” said Rohner. “The ladies that were honored with the opportunity to represent our team at the All-star game worked very hard and earned their votes. The entire team has been instrumental in helping each other be successful.”

The Mayhem rose from the ashes of the Maine Rebels, sold off and shipped to New Hampshire last year. Jeffords herself was instrumental in ensuring that women’s football in Maine survived the Rebels’ demise, and is the Mayhem’s President.

Jeffords’s fellow members of the Mayhem Board of Directors are Vice-Presidents Rohner and Frankie Curtis, also a player; Treasurer Kate Archambault, a retired player; and Secretary Paula Beaulieu, another player.

And then, of course, there are the players, who hail from across southern and central Maine and even Massachusetts, and whose passion for the game is apparent. 

Theresa Hendrix of Scarborough is in her first year of football. “[We rookies] have heard stories from previous years, and how the programs weren’t highly respected due to lack of competitiveness,” said Hendrix.” Even though we were not part of those teams, we can tell how important and exciting this season has been for those girls who did go through that.”

“After getting the program’s first win at our first outing,” Hendrix said, “we knew things were going to be different this season. It wasn’t one or two girls that stuck out, the whole team contributed, every single game. At one point, a coach from a rival program even complimented us on how far we have come as a team and how much they respect our game.”

The Mayhem won their first game of the season 24-6 on the road at the New York Knockout. They then dropped a bout, 52-0 to the towering Montreal Blitz. They took their next two, 32-6 and 40-0 against the Connecticut Hawks and the Knockout, respectively. After losing a second big one to the Blitz, they also fell – but very narrowly, 2-0 – to the New England Nightmare. Their last two games were another loss to the Nightmare, 8-14, and another win over the Knockout, 28-0.

Jaimee Gammon of Buxton echoed Hendrix’s happiness for her veteran teammates. “One of the best moments of our season was our first game. All our veterans were in tears after we won because they hadn’t had a victory in so long. It was special to me, to see this in front of me.”

“We have talent, heart, strong bonds and passion,” Gammon said when asked about the difference between this season and previous seasons.

Hendrix applauds the structural strength of the Mayhem, from the top to the bottom. “It’s a waterfall effect from the administration of the team. Being able to trust in them allows us to have trust in each other,” she said. “Everyday we put in 100 percent effort, not just for ourselves but for our teammates, coaches and administration. As an organization we have the same goals and aspirations, and put time and effort into the little things that help create the big picture and reach our goals.”

The Mayhem have been prepping diligently for their bout with the Lightning. “[We’re] super excited,” said Hendrix. “We have worked so hard and are going to continue to work hard until that clock runs out, the final game. We have been watching film and studying their game, but also working on ourselves to make sure we are ready to play our game.”

“We’ve watched film and discussed their techniques to help us understand how to play them,” said Gammon. “We have been trying to get used to the heat, so we don’t all fry when we go to North Carolina. Lastly: Conditioning. We need to be strong and healthy to be able to play [the Lightning].”

Both Hendrix and Gammon say that being part of the Mayhem family has changed their lives for the better. “Football has helped me take my aggression out on the field,” said Gammon. “Before, I was a pretty shy person, but now I’m not as scared and nervous of things.

“Being part of a group of ladies who love the sport, the competitiveness, the teamwork, the athleticism and have the same goals has been amazing,” said Hendrix.

Likewise, both ladies encourage women everywhere to take a chance on football – to give it a try for themselves. “Any women thinking about football should just come out and try it,” said Gammon. “Hopefully they’ll fall in love with it like I did.”

The Mayhem are online at www.mainemayhemfootball.com and www.facebook.com/mayhemfootball2016.

Members of the Maine Mayhem give the camera attitude.  From left: Ariane Bowie, Jaimee Gammon, Wendy Newton, Elizabeth Sullivan, Alicia Jeffords, Theresa Hendrix, Kristianna Springer, Haylee Graves, Jessikah Lopez and Sam Sargent.

Mayhem head coach and vice president Jeremiah Rohner walks the sidelines.

Jaimmee Gammon, a 2015 graduate of Bonny Eagle, is just wrapping up her first season with the Mayhem.

The Mayhem’s Jennifer Meyers gets in the zone, prior to the action.

Scarborough’s Theresa Hendrix unwinds into a throw in Maine Mayhem action earlier this season.