One of the things I most love about my job is all of the incredible women it has introduced me to. From local business owners to other moms in the trenches, the connections made through Boston Moms have enriched my life in a way I cannot adequately describe. When The National Football Foundation and Future For Football asked if Boston Moms would be interested in continuing to partner and share the positive impact that football has had in the Greater Boston community, I knew exactly who I would contact.
You see, I have been hoping to interview women’s football phenom and Wicked Good Mom Darcy Leslie since I first saw her name in an article earlier this year announcing her signing with the Boston Renegades, Boston’s women’s pro football team.
Darcy Leslie’s football career began after college, when she found herself missing the community aspect of team sports that she’d been involved in for the majority of her life. Darcy had a storied 8 year career on the Chicago Force women’s tackle football team, where she became a national champion and a decorated member of the team. After leaving the Chicago Force, Darcy opened her own CrossFit Gym and dove into entrepreneurship, marriage, and motherhood. In 2022, 5 years after ending her football career and just a few short months after becoming a United States Citizen Darcy took a leap and tried out for Team USA, securing 1 of 45 coveted spots as a member of the 2022 US Women’s National Football Team. In July of 2022, Darcy and Team USA won the Gold Medal match against Great Britain and her love for football was reignited. A few months later, she signed with our very own Boston Renegades and became a part-time Boston Mom, commuting from her home in Chicago to Boston for practices and games.
Luckily for me, Darcy’s season with the Boston Renegades recently came to a close when the team cinched the 2023 National Championship and she had a few free minutes in-between workouts, business ownership and responsibilities as a mom and wife to chat with me.
Darcy is as cool as you’d imagine. She and I bonded over the transformative experience of motherhood and how hard it can all be sometimes. She is an open book about the challenges of her career, is a believer in therapy and a proponent for maternal mental health, is hugely grateful for the support of her wife and sons and cognizant of their sacrifice for her career, and is an inspiration for women and girls in Boston and beyond.
For Darcy, football has allowed for her to be her best self, but more than that, to be the best mom she can be.
“Football definitely makes me a better mom. It’s changed how I see the world. My son, see, he wanted to take a dance class. After he started he realized he was the only boy in the class and told me he didn’t want to do it anymore. So my wife and I asked him, is it because you don’t like dance class? Or because you’re the only boy? And you know what? He said it was because he was the only boy! We told him he should stick it out because it’s what he loves and when he had his little show he was clearly in the right place! He was as star up there! As a woman in football, I’m showing an example for my children and kids everywhere: show up for what you love, no matter what.”
For Darcy and her teammates, Football is more than just a game. Darcy mentioned the impact that her team has had on her several times during our conversation: they offered their homes to her when she was commuting from Chicago. They held her accountable at practice. They cheered for her and with her. And together, they won the 2023 National Championship. Though she is an incredible individual athlete, The Renegades and their coaching staff as a whole exemplify all of the good in the sport.
When I asked Darcy what advice she’d give to young girls in the sport she said, “I so badly want to inspire the next generation of football players. To me that would feel like a job well done. If I could give any advice it would be: hold yourself high, find a supportive community, and don’t shrink yourself. Be as big and as loud as you want to be.”
And her advice for moms beyond football?
“Take the leap. Find time for what your yourself. Go live. Step back and do something that will bring you joy. We only live once! I’m so tired but I’m so happy. I want more people to have that.”
If you or your child is interested in learning more about football or you would like to find a league near you, you can use the National Football Foundation’s League Finder here.