Mississippi Panthers compete in Women’s National Football Conference

Mississippi women's football team readies for upcoming season
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 9:44 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - One of the most popular sports in the country is taking on a new spin.

The Women’s National Football Conference is comprised of 16 teams across the nation, and the Panthers represent the only team from Mississippi.

“A lot of us are mothers,” said running back Candice Davis. “So, we have children. We have jobs. And we get out there and work hard just like the men.”

Madison Jones is a newcomer to the squad, and she talked about her first experience playing full-contact football.

“I felt great,” she said. “I was like, ‘Man, this is something different for me,’ because I’ve played basketball growing up.

“So, I actually got out there with pads on and full helmet, and I’m like, ‘This is the real deal. These girls are serious.’”

The Panthers practice twice a week as they gear up for the beginning of the season.

Some of the players talked about the influences they had that led them to the game that they love.

“My favorite player has always been Ray Lewis,” said defensive tackle Dee Armstrong. “Hard hitters. So, that kind of brought me into loving football. ‘I can hit you and nobody’s going to say nothing?’ Goodnight.”

Jones said she took a cue from a movie.

“I remember from ‘The Blind Side,’” Jones said. “The left tackle is like the blind side of the quarterback. This is a very important role. So, I love the responsibility of it. It holds me accountable of being there for my teammates like I should be.”

Davis said she watches other kinds of tape to get her inspiration.

“I watch a lot of different things I can do at home to work on my footwork,” said Davis. “A lot of different techniques.”

Camry Veal has been the co-owner and general manager since 2018, and he says he is proud of just how far the team has come.

“Just looking at how many ladies we had,” said Veal. “It was like over 50 or 60. And I was like ‘Remember our first tryout when we had 9 girls?’ It just built from there.”

This year, the Panthers will travel to Dallas, Denver, and Atlanta for their away games.

Since the players are not paid, the team raises travel money through sponsorships and fundraisers.

While the goal is to compete for a championship, Davis has a bigger message for not just her children, but children across the county.

“No matter what society thinks, women can do just about anything a man can do,” Davis said. “That’s why I like being in the construction business. I can build you a house, a deck, a garage; whatever you need. Just like a man.”

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