Player retirements combined with a new free agent system that has allowed easier player movement than ever before in the Legends Football League (LFL) means that the fourth edition of the Atlanta Steam will include an unusual number of new faces. The changes have opened the door for league rookies to earn nearly half of the 2016 active roster spots after close to 20 players with no league experience were invited to take part in the preseason mini-camps, half of which could be wearing the red and black came opening day.
This is the first in a series of articles that will introduce rookies that have a real opportunity to be on the Atlanta active roster this season, and puts the spotlight on Arryana Barton, Brianna Brown, Santia Deck, and Danielle DiCaterino.
Barton is a California native that fell in love with sports when she was just five years old. That was when she began shadowing her father-a coach-as he did his job on the sidelines, and his passion and love of competition became Arryana’s. Arry graduated Luther Burbank High School in 2010 with both academic and athletic (basketball, volleyball, track and field) honors before attending Sacramento City College where she was a standout on the track team. Barton is the holder of the second best triple jump in the history of the college. In the fall of 2012 Barton transferred to McPherson College in Kansas where she broke records in indoor triple jump, outdoor triple jump and shot put while leading her team to the 2014 outdoor track and field Conference Championship-the first for the school since 1977. Barton graduated in May 2015 with a B.A. in Communication and a Minor in Entrepreneurship. Her goal is to become an on-air, sports anchor. Playing football is new for Arry, but she has been interested in trying out for the league since college. There were no teams in Kansas, so her relocation to Atlanta has allowed Barton to act on the desire to play football in the LFL.
Brown grew up in Atlanta and took part in several sports during her high school career, including boxing which she says was her strong suit. Brianna recently discovered the LFL and says that trying out for the Steam is a “challenge and addiction” that allows her to continue to grow as both a person and an athlete. Brianna spent two years at Georgia State University before deciding she wanted to become an aircraft mechanic and transferring to Atlanta Technical College where she earned her A & P certificate. Brown has been working at the Atlanta airport for the last four years, and says “The continuous troubleshooting, the engine changes, and the nights of endless grease and screaming engines are all a part of my “normal” routine.”While lacking football experience, Brown’s love of boxing should help her adjust to the contact involved on the gridiron.
Deck is competing for the starting running back job, and makes no secret that her goal for this season is “to become the breakout rookie of the year and to become known as the female Barry Sanders.”
Lofty talk from a rookie competing for a roster spot for sure, but when you go by the nickname “Queen of Abs” because of your ripped core, bold statements are nothing new-nor is backing them up.
While Deck played basketball, soccer, and tennis in high school her first love was track and field. With three brothers that played the game (all running backs) it’s comes as no surprise that the Houston native has loved football since her childhood.
DiCaterino played soccer and ran track in middle school before cheer leading in high school. She attended college in Valdosta, Georgia where she earned her cosmetology license. Having developed a love of working out and staying fit while in school, Danielle decided she wanted to work in the fitness field so the Douglas, Georgia native earned her certification as a personal trainer. The 24-year old DiCaterino relocated to Atlanta and it was there that a chance meeting with two Steammates turned her on to the LFL.
“I was actually at my bar tending job when two beautiful and by the looks of it, strong women sat at my bar. In my head I just knew they were athletes and I couldn’t help but ask. It ended up being Dina Wojowoski and Adrian Purnell. They told me what they did and I instantly googled the LFL.”
The more she learned, the more trying out intrigued her. Danielle worked out with the team on a trial basis late last year which led to an invitation to the tryout and the mini-camps.
The number of talented rookies means the competition to make the 20-player active roster is going to be fierce, but there is no doubt that the result will be the most talented crop of rookies since 2013.