Special Features

Angelique Smith, brings light to her experience in women’s tackle football

Team USA player, Angelique Smith, (#90) goes for a tackle against a player on the opposing team, Canada.

“I didn’t even think of it as an option. I knew this was something that was for boys and I accepted that,” she said.

Angelique Smith described her process on becoming a women’s tackle football player that eventually led her to play for Chicago Force in Chicago, Illinois.

“I lived in California and I was gaining weight so I decided I needed to find something to do. One day, I stumbled across a women’s football team on Facebook called the California Breakers in Orange County,” she said.

Smith stated that she tried out and was luckily surrounded by other women who shared a competitive and athletic background. “Although me and the girls had a past of playing sports, we didn’t know anything about the X’s and O’s in football.

Smith made the team but the process was not the typical operations of a NFL football team.

“I was given a workout and asked to unload the game. I was put into a position that I’ll thrive in and studied that position with another group of women. We practiced three times a week.” she said.

Smith mentioned she was a huge NFL fan and fell in love with the defensive end. This was how she came to her position as a women’s tackle football player.

“When it was time for me to study, I picked my favorite NFL defensive men and became a student of the game,” she said.

After playing two seasons with the California Breakers, Smith decided to departure from the team.

“Being in shape was not a requirement for this team. I wanted to win and I needed competitors. I was the best on the team,” she said.

Smith then learned of a tryout in Chicago that was held at University of Illinois at Chicago and attended.

“I felt the professionalism immediately. It was definitely a culture shock. Day one it was communicated to us how we should be professional on and off the field,” she said.

Smith played five seasons with Chicago Force. Currently, there is no women’s football team. It ended in 2017. However, Smith offered advice to any young girl who is interested in playing women’s tackle football but has been told no because “you’re a girl.”

“Keep believing in yourself. Don’t allow anyone to narrate your story. Study the game and always remain confident in your abilities,” she said.

Smith is no longer playing football but she stated that she thought about getting together a small collective of women to create and grow a team.

Aniyha Jones uses her sports podcast, You’re Wrong, Sir, to educate and exemplify a mission bigger than sports

Q: Tell me about your sports podcast.

A: My podcast is where we’ll travel on a unique and in-depth analysis into sport’s business, culture, and politics. Alongside a variety of intriguing guests, I’ll bring an interesting voice to a male-dominated industry.

Q: Why the name?

A: During the process of creating the podcast, coming up with a name was definitely the hardest part. I wanted something that was catchy but meaningful at the same time. I knew to come up with the best name, I had to outsource. I texted one of my friends from high school, Jason Mason, to ask for his help. He sent me a few ideas but my favorite were “Make it make sense” and “You’re Wrong, Sir.” I was leaning towards “Make it make sense,” however other podcasters were using that. I chose “You’re Wrong, Sir” and ultimately I believe I made the best choice.

Q: What content will you provide?

A: You’re Wrong, Sir provides a sort of irony to the fact that women can still be dominant and knowledgeable in what people call today, a male-dominated industry. My mission was to build a platform that uplifted women in sports and highlighted their accomplishments. To not only push for diversity, but inclusion. We’ve continuously seen women undermined and even what recently happened with Maria Taylor. This podcast is a statement that women can coexist in the sports industry too.

Q: What prompted you to start a podcast?

A: During my freshman year of college, I kept telling myself that I wanted something of my own. I wanted something that I could call mine sooner than later and be proud of it. Ironically, I didn’t know that opportunity would come the summer before my sophomore year. I’d begun to fall in love with podcasts during this summer. One of my favorites was “Million Dollar Life Lessons” by Prince Donnell. I found myself listening to podcasts everyday and May 18, 2020 was the day. I was laying in bed watching “All The Smoke” and I found myself thinking I can do this! I was sitting for two hours straight listening to people give their opinions about basketball and interview people. The idea came at the moment and I said, I’m going to start my own sports podcast. The rest is history! 

Q: Where do you see your podcast taking you? What do you hope to achieve with your podcast?

A: This question is quite interesting because I think it’s opening up different doors than I expected. Many people ask me if my goal is to become a sports analyst like Maria Taylor and Taylor Rooks. However, that was nowhere near what I thought I wanted to do. My podcast is exemplifying my ability to speak and interview. I see my podcast allowing me to build my credibility and get the opportunity to make special guest appearances on ESPN & my favorite podcasts. I envision the podcast opening doors for Voice-over as well. I hope to educate my listeners with the podcast. Every episode, I start with a highlight which brings light to the great work that women in sports are doing. I want to build a community with my podcast and honestly, just build relationships with those in the sports industry. 

Q: What is your dream job? Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Will you continue a path in sports?

A: My dream job is to have my own marketing company and become a brand strategist for athletes. In the next 5 years, I see myself having a very successful and impactful job within the sports industry. I’m not entirely sure where it will be, but I have great confidence and faith that it’ll happen.

Q: As a woman in sports, what impact do you think you can make in a male-dominated industry?

A: Inspiration is the highest form of human act. If I don’t do anything, I definitely want to inspire another girl and show her that anything is possible. I believe that I can impact sports by helping change the trajectory and opportunity for Black people. I’m not quite sure what direction God will send me in, but I’m pretty sure the impact will be huge. 

Q: What is some advice you could give younger girls interested in joining the sports world?

A: Just do it. I was so nervous to release my podcast, sometimes I used to be nervous to discuss sports around men because they wouldn’t think I was right. JUST DO IT! Forget the “male-dominated” industry adage. Forget the standards in which society box women in. Be you. Trust yourself. Just do it. Do anything you put your mind to. The sky’s the limit and we’re all capable of breaking glass ceilings. Nobody can stop you but you. 


Robert McDowell eyes bright future with sports magazine

Robert McDowell looks to make a debut in the sports world with the help of his sports magazine, “4th Quarter.”

McDowell always envisioned of having his own magazine. He stated, “I always wanted to showcase athletes and highlight the the culture around Chicago basketball.”

However, McDowell realized he created his magazine for a more substantial reason.

“I created this magazine for HBCU athletes. I wanted to give more power to women in sports and black-owned businesses. I’ve always wanted to give back to an HBCU so why not give them the love and support they need,” he said.

McDowell rebranded for years until the release of his magazine in 2020. He said he was adamant on getting his magazine right.

“Everyone has a story to tell and their story matters. I want to be the one to tell their story,” McDowell said.

McDowell plans and dreams for his magazine has been happening faster than he expected. He stated, “Getting professionals made me realize that I can do this. My magazine is more than a magazine. It’s about building relationships with the people I talk to.”

In the future, McDowell aims to have his magazine featured in every HBCU and to offer paid internships to prospective students.

Robert McDowell

Robert is from the Westside of Chicago. As an aspiring sports journalist, Rob started his own sports magazine called “4th Quarter.”

Check out his magazine here.

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