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NCO volunteers for ‘Tucson Monsoon’ season

Tucson Monsoon linebacker Deanna Grimstead, #24, tackles California Quake runningback Tami Singletary, #24, during a round robin scrimmage held in Southern California, March 21. The Monsoon’s assistant coach, 162nd Fighter Wing aircraft maintainer Staff Sgt. Mike Holly, volunteers his time to help lead the new women’s professional football league. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

Tucson Monsoon linebacker Deanna Grimstead, #24, tackles California Quake runningback Tami Singletary, #24, during a round robin scrimmage held in Southern California, March 21. The Monsoon’s assistant coach, 162nd Fighter Wing aircraft maintainer Staff Sgt. Mike Holly, volunteers his time to help lead the new women’s professional football league. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tucson Monsoon season is approaching and promises to bring a different kind of storm - and it has nothing to do with the weather. 

In his spare time, Staff Sgt. Michael Holly of the 162nd Fighter Wing here is the assistant coach for the Tucson Monsoon, a women's full-tackle football team and part of the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL). Holly is in his second year as assistant coach in this growing national sport. 

"The IWFL is equivalent to the Women's National Basketball Association. It's considered a professional league. It's women's tackle football. We started practicing in January for our eight game season which started April 11," said Sergeant Holly. 

He spends three days a week training the team alongside Coach Vincent Smith, a former offensive lineman for the Arizona Wildcats and the Los Angeles Raiders. With more than 30 women on the team, Holly uses the 9G Force Fitness program as part of their fitness routine; a program developed by Maj. Windy Hendrick, an F-16 instructor pilot assigned to the wing. 

"Knee and ankle strains are common injuries we see every season. The women are very strong and are hard hitters. As part of a conditioning routine to prevent these injuries we use the 9G method of physical training," he said. 

The 9Gs of Fitness include motivation and behavioral changes, basic nutrition, a walking program, basic exercise, objectives and lessons learned, a cardio resistance program, advanced nutrition, advanced exercise and putting it all together. 

The average height of an IWFL football player ranges from 5 foot 4 inches to 5 foot 6 inches. Size is no challenge for players as they are proficient tacklers, said Holly. 

"The different elements of proper tackling and use of strategy can have positive results in a game. We teach these techniques, and the players are very good at implementing them during a game," he said. 

Master Sgt. Hollie Hansen, base contracting officer for the 162nd, is the team photographer. As a former player she's watched them grow from a fledgling team to a recognized national team. 

"It's changed quite a bit over the last few years," said Sergeant Hansen. "They won some games last season and a lot of the success is due to the new coaches and the dynamics of the team." 

In addition to volunteering as a coach, Holly volunteers his time as an advocate for women's football. He maintains the team's booster Web site and works with local media to tell their story. 

It's through the sport that this Guardsman is making an impact on his community.
"I'm always looking to challenge myself and this is my way of making a contribution. It's all for the love of the game," he said. 

Another one of Holly's goals is to establish a youth flag football league through a grant from the National Football League. 

To read more about the Tucson Monsoon visit their website at www.tucsonmonsoon.com.