Student needs a steady hand to combine dentistry, football
Alli Alberts suffered many aches and pains during her rookie season with the Chicago Bliss football team, including a concussion, cracked rib and so many bruises that one leg was the color of the rainbow.
Fortunately for the 26-year-old wide receiver/defensive back, her hands came away without so much as a hangnail.
That’s a good thing, not only for her career on the field, but her long-term future as a prosthodontist in dental practice.
A 2013 graduate of the College of Dentistry, Alberts is in her first year of a three-year advanced prosthodontics program, learning to repair and replace teeth with crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays, dentures and implants.
The work takes concentration and a steady hand, two traits she uses to run precise routes and catching a football.
Alberts, from downstate Smithton, played an integral part for the Bliss in winning the 2013 Legends Cup, the championship of the Legends Football League. She scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half, staking the Bliss to a 27-6 halftime lead over the Philadelphia Passion. The Bliss went on to win 34-18.
“I loved every second of the season,” said Alberts. “I don’t care about individual statistics. I just want to win. It’s more fun to win as a team.”
The Legends Football League is a woman’s 7-on-7 full-contact tackle league. The Bliss plays its home games at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.
The league began as the Lingerie Football League in 2009, but was rebranded in January 2013 to better reflect the women’s competitive nature.
The uniforms changed along with league name. Bras, skimpy underwear and garters have been replaced with performance apparel. Shoulder pads were redesigned to provide more protection for players, who also wear elbow and knee pads, plus ice hockey-style helmets with clear plastic visors instead of facemasks.
Alberts discovered the professional league while watching TV. An avid football fan whose family had season tickets to the St. Louis Rams, she thought football would be a good way to release her competitive drive.
She missed the days of team sports, having been an All-State athlete in volleyball, basketball and track and field at Freeburg High School.
She was a key member of the Washington University volleyball team that won the Division III national title in 2007; she was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She was a second team All-America in volleyball in 2008 and a star on the track, where she was a three-time All-America and school record holder in the heptathlon.
As a rookie for the Bliss, Alberts led the team in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns during the regular season. On defense, she had 17 tackles, 15 of them solo. She sacked the quarterback once and had two interceptions.
Alberts was one of five players nominated for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, won by Shuree Wyatt of the Seattle Mist.
Alberts’ first game is a little foggy in her mind. During the third quarter against defending champion Los Angeles, Alberts tried to stop Temptation quarterback Ashley Salerno from running in a one-point conversion after a touchdown. She was hit so hard she was “knocked out cold.”
“It was pretty scary,” Alberts said. “My mom and friends were in the stands and saw me lying on the field getting medical attention. I was taken to the locker room, but I couldn’t remember anything before that. My mom didn’t want me to play again.”
After a three-week break, Alberts’ concussive symptoms subsided and she was medically cleared to play. She couldn’t help wondering whether every game was going to be like her first.
“When I was making a tackle, I just kept thinking, stay low, stay low, stay low,” she said. She didn’t sustain another concussion, but she cracked a rib taking a hit.
Alberts played co-ed flag football, but tackle football better fits her intense nature, she said.
“Sometimes I get a little too crazy when playing sports, and when I was playing volleyball, teammates would occasionally tell me to calm down, that I was getting too excited,” she said.
“With football, I don’t have to calm down. I can use all my energy, aggression and intensity on the field. Which I think only makes you better. I can’t wait for next season.”