This article appeared in the November 2013 Issue of Curve Magazine
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With a voice like Melissa Etheridge and an arm like Joe Montana, Sami Grisafe is poised to conquer the world.
Last summer, singer-songwriter Sami Grisafe, 28, belted out the national anthem under the clear blue sky of the 2013 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Women’s World Championship. She was armed with only her wonderfully raspy voice and the sweet sound of a ukulele.
Standing proudly in front of her team- mates, the opposing team, fans and officials, Grisafe was completely at ease. But as soon as the anthem ended, she flipped the inten- sity switch, quickly strapped on her helmet and joined her teammates in the huddle.
Grisafe’s road to the Women’s National Football Team began when she was just 10 years old.
“Honestly, I didn’t know much about the game of football, [because] I was really heavy into baseball at the time. [My friend] invited me to go with him [to football camp]. I went so I wouldn’t be left bored at home. After the final day of camp, I ran home and begged my mom, on my knees, to let me play.”
Grisafe’s mother was naturally worried about her daughter’s safety. She even called the president of Redlands Junior All-Amer- ican Football and talked to him about her concerns. “He said if I didn’t like it after two weeks, she could have a full refund,” laughs Grisafe. “I’ve been playing ever since and my parents are my biggest fans.”
As time went by, Grisafe’s love for the game grew. So did her talent. In fact, she became the first female in California to play quarterback in a varsity, Division I football game. After high school, Grisafe found a way to extend her football career.
“I first heard about the Chicago Force during my time at Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts. I was in the theater office during a break between classes and the office manager was talking about an article written about the Chicago Force. He said, ‘Sami, I know you played football in high school, but these girls look like they mean business.’ I took that as a challenge and emailed the General Manager,
Linda Bache. By February 2007, I was a member of the team.”
Since becoming the starting quarterback for the Chicago Force, Grisafe has amassed an impressive 50-6 overall record. Her quarterback rating (which would place her alongside some of the best players in NFL history) is a whopping 131.3, and she was selected to the All-Star team in her first five seasons. In her best performance as a pro, Grisafe threw for over 500 yards and seven
on the field can feel like a really good song, the rest of the world fades away...
touchdowns. Amazing, yes. But ESPN hasn’t reported a word of it.
“Exposure is a difficult thing right now because of the amount of [sports] compet- ing for attention,” Grisafe explains. “So, it’s a challenge to introduce anything that people don’t already know about. [But] I challenge ESPN and any other major sports network to come watch a game. I am [also] really excited about the documentary, The Tackle Girls (to be released in 2014), and honored they’ve chosen to feature my personal story. It will do a lot to raise awareness for women’s football and hopefully inspire young girls to continue to play the sport they love into their adult years.”
Though the sports bug bit her first, Gri- safe’s love for music was always lurking in the background. “I grew up around music since both my parents and my aunt were in a group and sang professionally,” she says.“I always enjoyed it, but didn’t see myself as a singer or musician until I was in college.”
Grisafe’s style of music is both gritty and folksy, a combination that she likes to call “provo-rock” because it’s both provocative and honest. “People always assume that I am very tough and kind of a brute, but I’m a softy at heart,” she laughs.
Her current album, Atlantis is a good reflection of this. “The concept behind Atlantis is a place where nobody has to be afraid of who they are or of following their dreams,” Grisafe explains. “Sometimes it’s
hard to dive in and take the risk, but because there are so many people who believe in love and supporting humanity, we can become a more connected and supportive world.”
Opening for Chely Wright is just one of the highlights in Grisafe’s music career thus far. “I was really excited as I have a lot of respect for the courage and vulnerability [Wright] displayed in telling her story to the world. My [own] sexuality affected me as a songwriter at first, because I was dishonest with myself for so long and I believe music must come from an honest place. One of the first songs I wrote when I really decided to be honest with who I was and what I was feeling at the time is ‘Carousel,’ which is on the Atlantis album.”
With both her music career and foot- ball career going well these days, Grisafe is a very busy woman. “My football manager and coaching staff, and my music manager know that each are equally important to me. Over this past year we’ve evolved our strategy to focus on sports and music as equally part of my overall brand instead of separate a