Jamie Fornalwho saw action on offense and defense for the Chicago Force this season, her first on the teamwas named the Team MVP, it was announced in late October at the annual Force awards banquet, held at Seven Dance Club in Lake View.
"I was very honored to receive this award because we have so many great athletes on the team, and I really revere our coaching staff so, to know they felt I deserved this award really justified all the hard work I had put in to make sure I was in a position to help my team wherever they needed me," she said.
Fornal's football roots were first planted in Fresno, California, where she was going to school for her master's degreeand where she joined a flag football league. "During one of our games, Lisa King approached me and asked me if I'd be interested in playing full-contact football," she said. "After one practice, I was hooked."
Fornal played three seasons for the Central Cal War Angels, where she earned Rookie of the Year honors, and was an all-star receiver each season.
With the War Angels, she also played running back, safety and outside linebacker.
In 2014, she moved to Seattle and played for the Seattle Majestics, earning All-Star accolades at safety.
She played receiver, safety and cornerback for the Force in 2015.
"I enjoyed the coaching and camaraderie that is unique to the Chicago Force," Fornal said. "We have unbelievable athletes that are dedicated to becoming the best at their respective positions, with the help of a phenomenal coaching staff. There was always a sense of urgency and professionalism whether it be practices, tryouts, etc., which really set the tone for the entire season.
"We are a fast-paced, physical team that believes in giving our best effort and performance each and every playno mercy. There is also a strong support structure for the organizationfrom the announcer, game-day/events coordinators, sponsors, owners [and others] that is unlike anything I've ever been a part of, and it makes it feel as though we really are professional athletes."
Fornal was a four-year, three-sport varsity athlete in high school, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She played four years of Division I softball at Youngstown State University in Ohio.
"I don't know that there's any one play in particular that stands out to me, but returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown during our playoff game against Boston to set the tone for that game was pretty awesome," Fornal said. "In addition, the hit I got on their quarterback in the second half showcased our team's physical dominance. I like hitting people ... a lot."
The Indy Crash certainly will attest to that. During a 2015 game held in Chicago, Fornal delivered, arguably, the most bone-jarring hit of the season. "That hit felt good," she said, smiling. "I had a gut feeling she was going to scramble on the play because they hadn't been having much success offensively outside of a few broken, extended plays.
"On that particular play, she took off toward the sideline trying to get the corner for a few yards. [However], I had made the read early on that she was going to keep the ball, so I ran downhill at an angle to intercept her right on the sidelines. As soon as she saw me coming she lowered her shoulder rather than make a move on me, which I always see as a challenge, so I took a final power step, got my helmet across her body for a solid hit, and drove straight through her. It felt good."
Neighborhood: Rogers Park/Edgewater
Background: Originally from Rochester, Indiana; has living in Chicago since November 2014
Relationship status: "In a relationship with Shanlee M."
Hobbies: Playing sports, hiking, working out, eating and riding horses
Job title: Fitness manager at Equinox
Favorite movie: Crash
Little-known fact: "I used to show horses Western style [where a horse performs a pattern that combines trail and reining elements], and barrels were my best competition event."