Australian Rules Football player tackles recruiting

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 12/30/19

All Sara Rohner wished for during this holiday season was for women to listen to her recruiting pitch. Rohner has created a women’s Australian Rules Football team called the Centennial Tigers, …

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Australian Rules Football player tackles recruiting


All Sara Rohner wished for during this holiday season was for women to listen to her recruiting pitch.

Rohner has created a women’s Australian Rules Football team called the Centennial Tigers, which is using Willow Creek Park in Centennial for training.

Recruiting players is always a priority for Rohner.

“It’s one of those things that nobody knows how to play it,” admitted Rohner. “Every year we get a fresh crop of new players because we have to keep recruiting.

“We just start with the basics, since the game is like no other and most women have not played a tackle sport like rugby, so you have to teach every single facet, like how to pass the ball, how to kick the ball, how to catch the ball and how to tackle.”

Rohner, a former rugby player, played for Denver’s other Australian Rules Football team, the Denver Bulldogs. However, she got tired of driving across town for Bulldogs practices and formed the Centennial Tigers.

“We are primarily focused on bringing women in from the south metro area,” said Rohner. “I do a lot of recruiting. A lot of women are iffy about it. They say, `I don’t think so.’

“I just say, `If you don’t like it, I will never ask you to come back.’ But they come back every time because it is such a fun game.”

There are currently 35 women registered to play for the Tigers, who will compete in national USAFL competition during the 2020 season, which starts in May.

Australian Rules Football is a full-contact aerobic sport with no pads. It is played with 18 players on each team on a large oval-shaped field, and points are scored by kicking an oval-shaped ball between goal posts (worth six points) or between goal and behind posts (worth one point).

U.S. National Men’s Australian Rules Football coach Tom Ellis, who lives in Parker, will conduct some clinics in the south metro area to familiarize potential players with the sport.

Rohner welcomes any women who are interested in playing, and training sessions are set for Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at Willow Creek Park. Player dues are $250 for the season and new players get a $50 discount.

For information contact Rohner at or at the team’s web site at

Home field advantage

All those regular-season football games that go into gaining good seeds in the playoffs will be more important for 5A teams next season.

The football committee of the Colorado High School Activities Association voted to approve that all playoff games in 5A will be played at the home of the higher seeded team which is a big change in the postseason format.

Class 5A playoff games will be hosted by higher-seeded teams regardless of the number of home games that team has played.

Last season after the first round, the team with the fewest home games would be the home team for quarterfinal and semifinal contests.

Honor roll

Each week performances of South Metro athletes and teams will be highlighted. This week’s performances were selected from games, matches and meets held between Dec. 13 and Dec. 18.

First-year Arapahoe boys basketball coach Troy Pachner won his 400th career game when the Warriors topped Lakewood, 73-44, on Dec. 13. Pachner is in his 25th year of coaching after stints in California plus at D’Evelyn and Valor Christian. Senior Bryson Stephens scored 16 points for Arapahoe in the win.

Chaparral edged ThunderRidge, 49-47, in a boys basketball contest held on Dec. 14. Dalton Waldron and Joel Speckman II each had 10 points to pace Chap’s balanced attack.

Senior Jana Van Gytenbeek scored 19 points, had six assists and seven steals on Dec. 13 as the Cherry Creek girls basketball team notched a 55-17 win over Mesa Ridge.

Senior Tristan Hurdle of Highlands Ranch scored 20 points in a Dec. 16 boys basketball loss to Columbine.

Seven different players scored in Valor Christian’s 7-1 hockey win over Castle View on Dec. 14. Mason Hoehn had three assists to go along with his goal and finished with four points for the Eagles.

Andrew O’Connor had two goals and Blake Johnson was credited with three assists in Chaparral’s 5-3 hockey victory over Ralston Valley on Dec. 14.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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