When the Tufts University softball team won the first of three straight NCAA championships in 2013, Emily Beinecke, A13, batted fourth and played shortstop for the Jumbos. These days, she’s still helping her team win championships, albeit in a much different sport.
Beinecke is now a leading receiver for the Boston Renegades, a tackle football team that is part of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). The Renegades won the WFA national championship 42–18 over the Los Angeles Warriors in Atlanta last July—Beinecke helped the team build a 21–6 halftime lead before sustaining an injury.
She was playing on a flag football team in 2014 in Boston when some teammates convinced Beinecke to try tackle football. The skills she honed playing soccer, basketball, and softball throughout her life aided her transition into a championship football player.
“I always thought that I was going to be the first female Major League Baseball player ever,” said Beinecke, who works as a fitness coach at Achieve Fitness Boston in Somerville. “I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, so I’m not entirely shocked that I’m playing in a sport that has been so gendered in the past. We’re just trying to normalize football as a sport for women as well.”
Her welcome-to-football moment came in one of her first practices with the Renegades in March 2015, when she was clotheslined by a linebacker while running a slant route across the middle. Calling it a “learning experience,” she picked herself up and has since developed into the team’s star receiver: coached on offense by former New England Patriots linebacker and special teams player Vernon Crawford, Beinecke led the Renegades during their championship season with thirty receptions for 469 yards (15.6 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.
One of forty to fifty women on the Renegades’ roster who make a seven-month commitment to the team, Beinecke feels like part of a family. “As long as I feel good and love the sport, which I do, I will continue to play,” she said.