The Mile High Blaze went into Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, to win a National Championship and respect over the weekend. They accomplished both.
The Denver semi-professional women’s tackle football team defeated the Derby City Dynamite, from Louisville, Kentucky, Saturday 21-20 in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Division II National Championship. Quarterback Kimberly Santistevan threw three touchdown passes including the game-winner to Stephanie Skinner to seal the state’s latest sports championship.
After the game, Blaze owner Wyn Flato’s phone blew up with texts, emails, and calls of congratulations from many around the state and beyond. The team even got shoutouts from Denver Mayor Mike Hancock and Gov. Jared Polis.
“Hopefully, our city can see that we do have women who are playing football and it’s hard-hitting football,” Flato said. “To bring home a championship of its kind to our city and it be the first of its kind to happen here in Colorado, we feel blessed.”
The Blaze’s first championship is Denver’s sixth title on the national stage this year joining the Colorado Avalanche, the University of Denver men’s hockey team, Denver East High School hockey team, the Littleton Hawks pee-wee hockey team, and the Colorado Mammoth.
The Blaze is hoping to carry that momentum into next season when they play in the WFA’s top-flight division, the Pro Division. This year, the WFA Pro Division Championship Game was broadcast on ESPN2. The other games were streamed online.
“The goal is to get more people aware,” said Flato, who is also the league’s Director of Operations. "The more we make them aware, the more sponsorships are going to come in to help the players out.”
Flato hopes to get one big-name sponsor to sign onto and get behind the team — in particular, the Denver Broncos. Over the years, she has pushed hard through social media to get the Broncos’ front office to notice her team. With Broncos’ new ownership coming in, Flato has big goals … if she can get their support.
“My goal for us since I took this team over eight years ago was to be able to play a mini-game at a half-time game for the Broncos just so Bronco fans can see there’s football in the Spring,” Flato said. “The women of the Mile High Blaze are willing to put on a game for you guys and give you a season of football when the Broncos are taking off.”
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