By Tara Sullivan | Boston Globe
July 14, 2021 – While Lauren Yung was spending her youthful and college sports days serving, setting or spiking a volleyball, she wasn’t thinking about football. But as she sought new outlets for the athletic drive that took her through Northborough’s Algonquin Regional High School and Washington University in St. Louis, the path from the volleyball court to the football field somehow made sense, drawing on the type of hand-eye coordination skills or pace-of-play action bursts that underscore both sports.
Consider the transition complete.
Yung, along with the rest of the Boston Renegades for whom she is a top wide receiver, will play for a third consecutive Women’s Football Alliance championship next weekend in Canton, Ohio. The powerhouse semi-pro women’s football team advanced to face the Minnesota Vixen at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 24, the reward for their 63-3 semifinal victory over the Tampa Bay Inferno this past weekend. With a perfect 6-0 record and an aggregate score of 354-12, their odds for bringing another championship banner back to Boston are pretty good.
But more than the story of a title drive, this is the story of an amazingly dedicated group of women, athletes determined to find their place in a sport historically limited to men, professionals from the classroom to the boardroom, from the homefront to the front lines all making time for the game they have come to love.
“It’s hard to pull into a few sentences what this season has meant; for everybody and for all the reasons everyone else is experiencing this year, it has been totally different. But just being out on the field is obviously a real privilege.”
“Everyone on the team is juggling a lot of things,” Yung said. “We have parents, teachers, first responders, corporate lawyers, everything. You name it, we probably have it on the roster. For me, it’s always been a part of balancing this with everything I do. I do work full time [in sports sponsorship] and over the course of the past four years I’ve been working full time, been a grad student full time, lived in Watertown to Amherst to New York. I’m no different from anyone on this team.
“I saw a great quote: It’s not talking about work-life balance, but what you prioritize and when. It’s not because we have a ton of free time, but because we make time.”
Time for late-night practices when a field is available, time for film study squeezed in around work hours, time for COVID-19 protocols that might have robbed them of an entire 2020 season but have also allowed for the resumption of a 2021 campaign.
“It’s hard to pull into a few sentences what this season has meant, for everybody and for all the reasons everyone else is experiencing this year, it has been totally different. But just being out on the field is obviously a real privilege,” Yung said. “To have the support of such a great organization, to rally a roster during such a strange time, just a privilege and honor to be a part of.”
Yung has been doing it for four years, from the 2017 team that lost its only game in the championship, to the ones who returned in 2018-19 with back-to-back titles. So many others have come before her, and some, such as standout quarterback Allison Cahill, are still here. As one of the WFA’s all-time leaders in too many categories to count, Cahill will be out there again, winging the ball down the field.
“She was Tom Brady before Tom Brady was Tom Brady,” Yung said.