This professional football team is challenging assumptions about women in sports.

It may be spring, but there's one football league already back on the gridiron.

The teams are athletic.


All images and GIFs via Upworthy/YouTube.

The runs are epic.

And the players are women.

Don't worry, that's a look Callie Brownson is all too familiar with.

It's the face she gets when she tells people she plays women's professional football. Most people don't expect it, but Callie and her teammates hope to change that.

Callie Brownson gets ready to take the field.

Callie is a wide receiver for the D.C. Divas, a team in the Women's Football Alliance.

The professional league includes 45 teams, divided into two conferences and four divisions, similar to the NFL. The teams play an eight-game season, followed by intense conference playoffs and a national championship.

In 2015, the D.C. Divas went undefeated.

Despite their prowess on the field, some people still have their doubts.

A women's football league challenges many outdated notions of femininity, athleticism, and strength. No matter how popular women's sports get, the athletes remain hyper-sexualized and undercut at every turn — like this piece last year from FIFA about soccer forward and children's book author Alex Morgan, calling her "a talented goalscorer with a style that is very easy on the eye and good looks to match."


The athletes in the Women's Football Alliance are playing a game they love, and they compete with ferocity. The blocks are hard and loud, the passes are on point, the games are just as competitive and fast-paced as any other semi-pro league, and none of the women have time for your hangups.

Or as Callie put it:

She doesn't let that stop her. It only drives her to play harder.

Because it's not just about her. It's about the kids who see Callie and her teammates as role models.

The next generation of athletes — maybe even football players — watch the D.C. Divas' every move on and off the field. It's a responsibility the players don't take lightly.

"If you remember being a kid and looking up to somebody doing something that you wanted to do, if they were a positive role model and they made it seem like that dream was possible, you wanted to do it," Callie told Upworthy. "And that's what we have to continue to do. We have to continue to fight the good fight."

A future Diva keeps an eye on practice.

You can join the good fight by checking out a women's football game (or any women's sport, for that matter) in your area.

Bring your family, go with friends, and make a day of it. Just take some time to support the athletes and competitors who don't always get the accolades or attention they deserve. Your presence and your ticket dollars can go a long way toward keeping opportunities like this around for years to come.

Watch Callie tell her story and see the D.C. Divas in action in this Upworthy Original video.


Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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