The Baltimore Charm’s Ashley Helmstetter makes the transition from the cheerleading squad to the tackle football squad (see the original article at: www.LFL360.com).
Before Ashley Helmstetter joined the non-defunct Miami Caliente of the Lingerie Football League, she was a competitive cheerleader at Fairmount State University. After college, she was working at a hotel in West Virginia when her boss saw the call for try-outs and said, "hey Ash, look, you’re perfect for this!" Ashley was dreaming of cheering for the Dallas Cowboys but once she checked it out she fell in love, knowing that this was the ultimate mental and physical test for her. She said before she ever stepped onto the football field, "I knew it would
be tough but I had no clue what all was involved," she said.
As much as she prepared for the physical part of full-contact football, she still was "shocked" the first time she was hit:
"Some people would think its crazy, but I love the contact! The first hit was a slight shock. The pace of the game was way faster, and the hits were harder than I expected. You can practice and prepare but there’s nothing like playing your first game. Of course there are injuries. I am fortunate to not have any real serious ones, just minor bumps and scraps and slight shoulder injuries. The lack of protection is definitely a disadvantage for the ladies in this league."
Obviously, a lot of "pure" football fans look down with disdain at the ladies playing in what appears to be nothing more than a bikini with minimal padding, but Helmstetter, who will play tight end and defensive end for the Charm, wants you to look beyond the skimpy uniforms and appreciate the high level of play:
"It is real athletics playing real 7-on-7 full-contact football. The hits are just as hard as the NFL and there are true female ballers in this league. You have to see a game in
person to believe it! What you see aired on MTV2 are only quick cuts and some plays of the game. It’s raw and even better LIVE! It’s a must watch and very entertaining!!"
After the 2010 season, the Miami Caliente folded and Ashley didn’t hesitate to join the Baltimore Charm and be closer to her Ridgely, West Virginia small town roots, family and friends.
"I wanted to be closer to home, play ball and work on my Masters along with having the support from friends and family .It was a no brainer. I wanted to make it easier for my immediate family to travel and watch me play."
Coming from the "enemy," Ashley was welcomed with open arms by her new teammates:
"They have definitely invited me with open arms. Last season was last season. Of course we had our rumbles, and battles and aggressive times at the Charm / Caliente game. You can butt heads on the field but off the field it’s all love. We all understand each other and are passionate about one thing: the love of the game. The ladies I now play with are amazing professional athletes on the field and they are great people off the field. I am thankful to be able to be welcomed to be part of a great program."
Perhaps furthering the notion that the Lingerie Football League is as much about selling sex as it is about football, a few of the ladies were honored to be featured in a Playboy Magazine photo shoot about the LFL. Ashley was one of two players now on the Baltimore Charm (the other being Stephanie Rollis), who graced the February 2011 cover and inside pages along with eight other LFL players. I had to ask Ashley about the Playboy shoot and how her life has changed as a result:
"Well unfortunately I can’t tell you about the whole shoot, but as you already know it was an amazing experience. Overall I was a little nervous at first, never modeling before and not knowing what to expect. The girls and staff at the shoot were very professional and upbeat. So this made it natural and comfortable. Me and the other girls vibed great and it
was so much fun there for a while I personally forgot I was half naked!! Meeting Hef and the great food and times at the Mansion were honestly more or just as memorable for me as the shoot. This experience has pushed me to continue growing and striving for dreams. This proves that at any moment you can be approached with life changing experiences."
So what does Ashley expect from herself and her new teammates in the 2011 LFL season?
"I’ve only been w/ the Charm a few weeks but by seeing the hard work and dedication of the girls and coaches of the team, any goals or expectations will be met. This is one determined group of girls and I’m blessed to be given the opportunity to be welcomed to play. Of course everyone wants to get to the Lingerie Bowl and dominate but realistically have a better more productive season than last year. Learn more about the game and enjoy the season."