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The Drill: Q&A With local "footy" player Suzy Thomas

Oct 23, 2009 | Dave Kallmann | © Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

The women's division trophy from the U.S. Australian Rules Football national championship resides in Wisconsin. Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Lady Bombers won the eight-team tournament, beating the Calgary Blue team, 8.3 (51)-1.5 (11), in the championship game. Thomas, of West Allis, who won the Geoff Cann Medal for MVP of the final, tried to explain "footy" to the Journal Sentinel's Dave Kallmann, who was lost from the opening ruck.

Q. Why do we have a successful Australian Rules Football team from Wisconsin?

A. We've had a core group of players that have stuck with it for the past four years. We really have a supportive men's program that has been willing to help us out. We have Aussies come in and out. . . every year. There were six of us this year that traveled to Australia this summer and played in an Australian tour over there.

Q. How many of your friends, how many people even know this is around?

A. No one. No one does. And I'm in my 30s, and that's kind of old to get beaten up on. I'm pretty athletic and adventurous, so I guess they're not surprised I'd try it.

Q. What's the toughest thing to pick up or to grasp about the game when you haven't grown up around it?

A. The coolest part of it is it kind of combines all kinds of other sports. It's so fast-moving; that's pretty difficult to catch on to right away, and when you first start playing, people are running by you, while you're just going, "What? I just got tackled." Of all the sports I've played, it's the one with the least number of rules. It kind of seems like what happens when you're a little kid and you throw a ball outside and people just pick it up and start playing something.

Q. You mention it can be a fairly brutal game. Have you gotten concussions? Doled out concussions?

A. My very first game I ended with a concussion, and I've had two. There's two of us that tore our ACLs, but that's a pretty common sports injury. Broken noses. Lots of bruises. But the better you are, the less you get tackled.

Q. Those have to be hard things to explain to significant others, coming home with a concussion or bloody nose.

A. That's how a lot of people end up retiring, because their significant other just goes, "What in the world are you doing? I refuse to take care of you anymore."