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Four New Orleanians taking part in 2016 Women's World Football Games

Saints first NFL team to host this event

Out of the 220 participants at the Women's World Tackle Football Games being held this week at the New Orleans Saints Metairie facility, four of them are locals. 

Linebacker Ayana Slaughter, quaterback Ann Stuts, wide receiver Stephanie Jackson and defensive tackle Leighastasia Pete said they appreciate that the Saints are the first NFL team to host these events.

They all play on Acadiana Zydeco Women's Tackle Football in Lafayette. Acaidana Zydeco is the only USA Football Women's Tackle football team in Louisiana.

Slaughter has been playing tackle football for 12 years. She first found out about women's football through social media. She has played for the Shreveport Aftershock, Baton Rouge Wildcats and befor joining Lafayette's Acadiana Zyedo. 

"Actually the first team I saw was the New York Sharks but I wasn't going to go all the way to New York to play football," Slaughter said. "I continued looking and saw the first team in Shreveport so I tried out for it."

Stuts, who just started playing, also heard about women's football through social media. She researched teams and it was either Houston or Lafayette. She felt Lafayette was more like home and a much closer commute. 

"I only made the team in October and began practice in November," Stuts said. "At 49, I'm the oldest rookie that I know of in this league."

During their first practice Tuesday, players ran drills in their respective positions. 

Offensively, quarterbacks, such as Stuts, practiced throwing from all angles and distances and wide receivers, such as Jackson, ran drills that focused on footwork and catching passes. 

Defensively, most of the work was on tackling.

"There is a different drive and inquisitive nature to learn and improve from these women," Coach Nick Gatton said.

"For me this is really, really special," Jackson said. "Just to know that my home state team did this for women's football is really big. Especially coming from the South where our states are first in all the wrong things but to be first in something as awesome as this is really great and I get to tell my parents and my siblings that we did this, Louisiana did this."

Tuesday's practice concluded with a visit from Saints players Terron Armstead, Zach Strief, Khiry Robinson and Jack Tabb. It was an especially meaninful experience to the local players.

"I've been a Saints fan all my life and just to be able to practice where they practice and get the same experience they get year round is incredible," Slaughter said. "We're only getting it for a week but still in all just to be able to take that back to my team and be able to give them the knowledge that I received this week is going to be just amazing."

Photos from Day 1 of practice for the 2016 Women's World Football Games. Photos by Lauren Levenson (New Orleans Saints Photos).

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