"Professional Football Player" is not a job title many women get to claim, but Milwaukee's Annie Latzig can.
Latzig is a full back on the offensive side for Kenosha's Northern Ice, one of 19 teams in the Women's Professional Football League. Surprisingly, she had never played football before this summer, but as a member of the MSOE rugby team, and an all-around athletic gal, she was already comfortable with contact sports.
"Contact sports are a rush," says 22-year-old Latzig, one of 47 women chosen to be on the Northern Ice Team. (The team has since dropped down to 40 players.) "It's a rush to get to hit someone -- and do it properly -- so it hurts them but doesn't physically beat them up."
The Northern Ice is an expansion team for the WPFL. The team owners, Theresa Glass and Theonita Cox, were members of the Wisconsin Riveters, which made it to the championship game last year but lost to the Houston Energy, 56-7.
The WPFL season runs from August 2 to October 19 and the Northern Ice, under the leadership of new coach Norm Killian, has won their first two games: 47-0 against the New England Storm and 69-6 against the Dayton Rebels.
Latzig credits the Ice's success to Killian's organized and demanding practices. "Norm has practices down to the minute, " says the 5-foot-7-inch, 180-pound player who wears number 11 on her jersey.
So far this season Latzig has been lucky in the injury department, receiving only minor abrasions. But she's not afraid of getting banged up, already having her front two teeth knocked loose during a rugby game and her jaw broken during a softball game.
The WPFL, which is in its fifth season, plays by National Football League rules except the women cannot block below the waist. They also use a smaller ball and kickoff from the 40-yard line.
Latzig, who grew up in Merrill, Wis., is a big fan of the NFL, especially the Packers. "I am most amazed by how many seasons Favre has had and still does a phenomenal job every time."
Age is not as much of an issue in the WPFL as it is in the NFL. Many female football players are in their mid-30s, with one player about to turn 40.
And of course another major difference between the two leagues is pay scale. Latzig will receive $1 per game, a far cry from, say, Favre's $2,150,720 earned last year. But Latzig is comfortable with men and women playing in separate leagues.
"I guess if the right woman wanted to play in the NFL, more power to her. But it hurts when a 130-pound woman hits me, so I don't think I would want to get hit by Gilbert Brown," she says.
Playing for the Ice is a tremendous time commitment, requiring between 25 to 30 hours a week not counting personal workouts. The team practices three times weekly, from 6:15 p.m. until, in Latzig's words, "we can't see the football anymore." Many of the players are from Milwaukee or Chicago and have an hour drive each way.
Plus, almost every Saturday during the season is a game day, and players are required to show up three hours early. Games last anywhere from an hour and a half to over two hours, and afterward the opposing teams share a meal together, often not finishing until 10:30 p.m.
Earlier in the summer, Latzig -- who is also a full-time architectural engineering student at MSOE and a part-time intern at Mared Mechanical -- contracted mono, which put her out of commission for three weeks and postponed her graduation date from this November to sometime next year. Latzig, who now jokingly refers to herlsef as a "super senior" because of her pushed-back graduation date, recognizes the serious need to strike a balance between school, work and football while maintaining good health.
"I usually take a couple less credits during sports seasons," says Latzig, who is also an all-conference softball player and has played on college soccer and basketball teams. "I have to be really organized and buckle down."
As for the future, Latzig hopes to find an engineering job in the area, possibly enter a Master's program and continue playing professional football, but wherever she ends up, she hopes to be a role model in her community.
"If you want to do something, dare yourself and then really do it," she says.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.