Saskatoon Hilltops’ LB Emmarae Dale becomes first woman to play in CJFL

Photo courtesy: Gord Mellor/Saskatoon Hilltops

Emmarae Dale has made history in the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL).

The five-foot-seven, 185-pound linebacker played in Sunday’s game between the Saskatoon Hilltops and Edmonton Huskies, making her the first woman ever to play in a CJFL game. The Hilltops came away with an 18-17 win with Dale making the stat sheet, recording one special teams tackle.

The native of Saskatoon started practicing with the team in 2020, though the CJFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She originally caught the attention of the Hilltops while playing with the Saskatoon Valkyries of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League.

Dale spent four years on the University of Saskatchewan track and field team specializing in weight throw. Her older brothers Anthony and Donovan previously won championships as members of the Hilltops.

The Hilltops are the class of the CJFL, having finished the 2019 season with a perfect 8-0 record and a sixth-consecutive Canadian Bowl. They are slated to play the Calgary Colts on Sunday, Aug. 29.

It has been a big year for women in football on both sides of the border with Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller becoming the first woman to score points in an NCAA Power 5 game and the McMaster Marauders hiring Taylor MacIntyre and Amanda Ruller joining as assistant coaches.