It was the year 2007 when I was in Wichita, Kansas visiting the Museum of World Treasures, which is said to be one of the top sights, and could certainly understand. Egyptian mummies, rare coins, Civil War artifacts, items from WWI, WWII, dinosaurs and sports memorabilia. I asked if they would be interested in having a permanent exhibit of a women’s tackle football team called the New York Sharks as they are the only women’s football team to have an item displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Done deal. The exhibit included owner and former quarterback Andra Douglas’ retired jersey, photo of her accepting an award from the Women’s Sports Foundation, football signed by the team, and a group of several photos depicting the history of this longest (since 1999) and winning team.
Curator Lon Smith was more than happy to accommodate. Once the exhibit was up he invited two of the Sharks players and myself for the opening. The media was there, autographs were signed and Lon suggested that the museum’s exhibit should expand to housing the IWFL Hall of Fame. It was out of his own pocket that he commissioned sculptor Bruno Lucchesi to create a bas relief.
This whole idea sounded so great that I put out an email to the other teams requesting that they send an exhibit. Not many responded but did make it. However, this hall of fame was crushed when given over to IWFL CEO Laurie Frederick and COO Kezia Disney.
About a year later from when I was there, Lon was set to open the exhibit inviting the press, Frederick and Disney who were driving from Texas. Just as a football game has a kickoff time, so did this celebration. Where were they? Hours went by with no attempt to call him. Their delay pointed to picking up a stray dog and putting it in the car with no concern for any schedule. Let’s add that these two business women showed up in totally inappropriate clothing. There was more to this that Lon later shared with me including the $10,000 that he wound up laying out. We were both appalled and whatever was scheduled did not occur.
It wasn’t long before Lon sent the exhibits back to the team’s owners, keeping the bas relief and NY Sharks exhibit a permanent fixture. Frederick and Disney never even apologized for their unprofessional behavior.
In fact, if you go to the website of the IWFL, they claim the Hall of Fame. “The Independent Women's Football League is proud to present and maintain the hall of fame. Honoring the courageous few that began play in 2000 and those that have come since. The hall of fame honors those that have given of themselves and set the standards of sportsmanship and skill that the IWFL has become known for.
The photos on this page are of the display housed at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita Kansas the Museum of World Treasures was the inaugural home the IWFL Women's Football Hall of Fame, housing the exhibit from 2007 through 2009 when it was returned to Texas for future exhibit.” Absent is anything depicting the New York Sharks or any acknowledgement of my part in this.
I had communicated with them requesting that they take this information off of their website. Needless to say, they have never gotten back with me. With enough problems just getting the word out there about women playing tackle football, it only makes it worse when you have women not only being unsupportive but taking credit where credit is certainly not due.