All the disappointments Jeanette Gray has suffered through as an athlete suddenly took a backseat Saturday night.
The Valparaiso native caught three touchdown passes as the Chicago Force knocked off the Dallas Diamonds 81-34 in the Women’s Football Alliance title game in San Diego.
The title was a long time coming for Gray and her teammates as the Force had lost in their first two trips to the title game, including a 40-36 loss to San Diego last year.
“I’ve come in second place or just short a lot in my athletic career,” Gray said. “This makes you forget a lot of that. It’s just a special feeling to be able to accomplish this with a great group of women.”
The Force scored on their first six possessions and carried a 62-20 lead into the locker room. Unlike last season, when Chicago blew a nine-point lead in the final minutes of the title game, there would be no let down against the Diamonds.
“We talked before the game about how important jumping out in front of them was going to be,” Gray said. “We wanted to get the lead and not let up.”
Gray scored back-to-back touchdowns in the second quarter and then added a third touchdown in the fourth quarter. With the outcome secure, the Force held a subdued celebration on the field and didn’t erupt until they reached the locker room.
“It was just like you see after the World Series or the playoffs on television,” Gray said. “We let loose quite a bit and there were a lot of tears.”
The WFA title caps off a successful summer for Gray that included a world championship with Team USA last month in Finland. While Gray has yet to make a decision on playing next year, she’s thrilled with how this season finished.
“The only way to top this would be to come back and do it again,” Gray said. “We had a great group this year and this was the last time we’ll all be together. It makes you appreciate everything that much more.”