If the Carolina Queens truly are the queens of the Queen City, their kingdom is once again University City.
The women’s professional football team, which has never played in the same home stadium for more than two consecutive seasons, is residing at Mallard Creek High’s field this year. The team played at Mallard Creek in 2008.
As tenants of Hopewell High in 2012 and 2013, Carolina won back-to-back Independent Women’s Football League Tier III national championships.
If the Queens are to claim a third straight title, their season would culminate with the IWFL’s Championship Week which will be held July 23-26 in Rock Hill.
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Carolina is celebrating its 10th season in 2014. The team is owned by Ebony Kimbrough, a University City resident, who is also serving as head coach for the first time.
Owning a women’s football team does not mean you get to sit in a suite during the games and yuck it up with the coaches and players after games. In her 10 years with the team, Kimbrough has been the team’s general manager, spent time as an assistant coach, and shared many other duties to keep the team vibrant.
Although she says she has “tried to retire” from playing for the past five years, Kimbrough has also worn a Queens jersey for the past 10 years. She’s still playing some defensive line and fullback this season but she’s tried to lighten her load as she has become more involved in coaching.
Last year, Kimbrough served as head coach Ron Cartier’s defensive coordinator. Because of a conflict with his full-time job, Cartier informed Kimbrough this year that he couldn’t return for a seventh season with the Queens.
So, this season Kimbrough added more on field duties to her off-field responsibilities, which include finding a home field. Starting with Carolina’s first season in 2005, securing a high school stadium has been an annual rite.
In addition to the last two seasons at Hopewell, the Queens have played at West Mecklenburg, Olympic, West Charlotte, and Harding.
“Every year I go speak to athletic directors from different schools until I find somewhere where we can play and has the availability,” said Kimbrough. “(Playing in different venues) gives us more recognition in certain areas.”
Kimbrough added that she is happy the Queens are playing a little closer to inner-city Charlotte and loves what a new stadium like Mallard Creek’s has to offer, especially artificial turf and its field-level locker rooms behind the south end zone. Kimbrough says that reserving fields has sometimes been difficult.
“For whatever reason, it’s sometimes hard for women’s sports to get into high school fields,” said Kimbrough. “Sometimes men’s semi-pro teams’ reputations make it hard for us. We have to build our own reputation as clean-cut, that we play ball, that we clean up after ourselves and don’t cause any problems.”
There are about 40 players on this year’s roster, that’s an increase from the last two years when the Queens have played in the IWFL championship games with 17 players. University City residents Dom Powell and Erica Scott are also members of the team.
The IWFL’s tiers work similarly to high school sports. Tier I, for example, includes teams with the most players. This season, the Queens are Tier II.
Carolina has started the season with two wins in three games. Its only loss was to the Baltimore Nighthawks, 28-22 in overtime, on April 26.
The Queens’ next play at home on May 17 against the Chattanooga Loco, a team they beat 52-0 on May 3.