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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of University of Denver Magazine. On July 9, alumna Tyesha Lowery and the Mile High Blaze captured the Women’s Football Alliance Division II national championship.

Tyesha Lowery in a blue and orange football helmet

Tyesha Lowery is a quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back for the Mile High Blaze. (Photo: Wayne Armstrong)

The knees don’t bend like they used to. The aches and pains are pretty much a constant now.

Still, Tyesha Lowery’s gold-cleated feet dance nimbly around the cones on the grass. The way they used to on the basketball court.

“They call me ‘Smooth’ now,” says Lowery (BSBA 2006, MA 2007), a quarterback and wide receiver on the Mile High Blaze women’s football team. Then she laughs. “I wouldn’t say I was so smooth [as a] freshman.”

Back then, Lowery was just a kid from Arlington, Texas, who grew up in a Boys and Girls Club. A good athlete and eventually a well-recruited point guard who, she recalls, thought she knew everything. That is until she came to the University of Denver, where “they showed me I didn’t.”

Ultimately, she would learn enough to become one of the best defenders and playmakers in program history. In her 74 starts, she places high on the all-time leaderboard in assists (11th) and steals (7th). But it’s the numbers that don’t make the stat sheet that stand out.

Six years with the program.

Two ACL tears.

“I was devastated at first. I went a little crazy in my dorm room,” Lowery says, remembering the diagnoses. “[But] I’m a fighter. I don’t let things keep me down. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

These days, that’s — unexpectedly — on the football field, in the semi-pro, full-contact Women’s Football Alliance. She captains a team that is coming off an undefeated regular season and fell just short of playing for a national championship.

She didn’t realize how much she missed being on a team, developing relationships with women she considers family. On and off the field, it reminded her of basketball.

“Of course it’s more dangerous,” she says with a laugh. “[But] as a quarterback, I felt like a point guard still. You have to trust your teammates so you can make plays. You have coaches telling you what to do. You have to train. It felt the same, it’s just a different sport.”

Yet it’s given her the same satisfaction she felt on the basketball court for all those years. And it’s helped her see how thankful she is for the people who made her athletic dreams a reality.

“It makes me realize how important it is now for kids who were just like me, who have the opportunity to possibly get a scholarship,” Lowery says. “If [the Boys and Girls Club and my coaches] weren’t there, then I would have never come to DU.”

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