Ruthless beauty

North­east High gradu­ate Shel­ley Lash­ley is bring­ing brawn and style to the grid­iron, thanks to the Linger­ie Foot­ball League.

Shel­ley Lash­ley has proved that kick­ing butt is a beau­ti­ful thing, at least on the foot­ball field. 

A 2004 gradu­ate of North­east High School, Lash­ley plays for the Phil­adelphia Pas­sion, a team in the Linger­ie Foot­ball League. 

She plays both on the of­fens­ive and de­fens­ive lines. Last year, the 5-foot-8, 125-pound ath­lete helped the Pas­sion com­pile a 5-1 re­cord and claim the East­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­on­ship title. They outscored op­pon­ents by more than 85 points.

The Pas­sion went on to Linger­ie Bowl VIII, the league cham­pi­on­ship game in Las Ve­gas, but lost to the Los Angeles Tempta­tion, 26-25. 

“I’m very ex­cited to get back out there,” said Lash­ley. “I ex­pect us to go 6-0 and win everything. I just want us to win. Once we win, I think we can re­lax a little bit.”

The pas­sion­ate play­ers of Phil­adelphia will host the Tampa Breeze in their sea­son-open­er on Sept. 9 at the Sun Na­tion­al Bank Cen­ter in Trenton, N.J. The match-up will start a six-game sea­son that spans Septem­ber through Feb­ru­ary, cul­min­at­ing with the grand fi­nale — Linger­ie Bowl IX — slated for Feb. 5 in Las Ve­gas. 

The Linger­ie Foot­ball League, which de­b­uted in 2004, is a full-con­tact, full-tackle league cur­rently com­posed of 12 teams in two con­fer­ences, East­ern and West­ern. Al­though the rules and reg­u­la­tions are sim­il­ar to men’s foot­ball, there are a few minor dif­fer­ences. 

The play­ing field is 50 yards in length and 30 yards wide. There are no punts and field goals. There are two 17-minute halves of game ac­tion, with a 15-minute half­time. If ne­ces­sary, a tied game moves to an eight-minute sud­den-death over­time. 

Oh, and the uni­forms — they’re slightly dif­fer­ent as well. 

“Every year the uni­form im­proves,” said Lash­ley, now in her third sea­son with the Phil­adelphia Pas­sion. “It’s ba­sic­ally like wear­ing a sports bra with short boy shorts. You kind of for­get about what you’re wear­ing in the in­tens­ity of the game. And when it’s hot, you’re happy to be wear­ing what you’re wear­ing. I for­get about the uni­form. I just con­cen­trate on the game.”

Lash­ley is the only play­er on this year’s squad from Phil­adelphia. Oth­er Pas­sion play­ers hail from New Jer­sey, New York, Con­necti­c­ut, Mary­land, North Car­o­lina, Delaware and even South Korea. Head coach Chand­ler Brown — who was named the league’s coach of the year in 2010 — is from Ewing, N.J.

“Every­one has grown over the past few sea­sons, from the coaches to the play­ers, and even the rook­ies com­ing in are stronger and bet­ter than the class be­fore,” said Lash­ley. “We have just grown as a fam­ily, too. Every­one is closer.”

Lash­ley is one the vet­er­ans on this year’s roster, hav­ing been with the Pas­sion since its in­aug­ur­al sea­son in 2009. At the time, she had just gradu­ated from Penn State Uni­versity with a de­gree in life sci­ence. 

“I was at Penn State and look­ing for a job,” Lash­ley re­called. “I got an e-mail from a mod­el­ing agency about the Linger­ie Foot­ball League and I Googled it. I de­cided to try out, and some­how I made the team.”

Al­though Lash­ley was ath­let­ic while grow­ing up, she had nev­er played foot­ball be­fore her Pas­sion try­out. A Ger­man­town nat­ive, she at­ten­ded schools in North­east Phil­adelphia — Woo­drow Wilson Middle School, Rhawn­hurst Ele­ment­ary School and then North­east High.    

“I did gym­nastics when I was young­er. I was on the cheer­lead­ing team in high school,” said Lash­ley, a three-year varsity cheer­lead­er for the Vik­ings. “In col­lege I tried ice skat­ing and judo. I dabbled in a lot of things.”

Of course, these days, it’s all foot­ball, all the time. 

With the sea­son rap­idly ap­proach­ing, the team has reg­u­lar prac­tices at the Sub­urb­an Sports Train­ing Cen­ter in Con­sho­hock­en. Lash­ley also works with a per­son­al train­er five days a week. 

“I’m one of the smal­lest girls,” she said. “I worked hard this off­season. I was try­ing to gain weight. I was lift­ing weights and eat­ing healthy and try­ing to get faster along with gain­ing the weight. I think I got faster and bet­ter.”

Away from the rough play on the foot­ball field, Lash­ley is em­ployed as a pa­tient-care ob­serv­er at Pennsylvania Hos­pit­al. She has thought about re­turn­ing to school for a nurs­ing de­gree, but in the mean­time her hos­pit­al job is provid­ing a wealth of clin­ic­al ex­per­i­ence. 

“It’s in­tense,” said Lash­ley, who has been at the hos­pit­al since March. “It’s cool see­ing what it’s really like in that at­mo­sphere. It’s a hard job to do that. I com­mend every­one who works in the med­ic­al field. It’s not easy.”

Lash­ley also has been pur­su­ing a mod­el­ing ca­reer. She was Miss Teen Pennsylvania in 2004 and gradu­ated the fol­low­ing year from the Bar­bizon School of Mod­el­ing. She has taken part in sev­er­al fash­ion shows and par­ti­cip­ated in nu­mer­ous photo shoots. This sum­mer, she traveled to New York City to ap­pear in a mu­sic video for Dylan Dilin­Jah (from MTV’s Mak­ing the Band).  

Yes, life is cer­tainly busy for the 24-year-old beauty. Yet, des­pite all of her com­mit­ments, she’ll tell you that one of the best feel­ings in the world is com­pet­ing on the foot­ball field. 

“I’m kind of ad­dicted,” she said with a laugh. “I can’t go one day without think­ing about foot­ball. The game is so en­ti­cing and so much fun. I just can’t stop play­ing. 

“To be able to play here, in Phil­adelphia — the city where I was born — it’s really ex­cit­ing,” she con­tin­ued. “I love the com­pet­i­tion and the friend­ships that I have with my team­mates. The coaches are amaz­ing, and just the game it­self. I love it. I’ll be play­ing here for a long time.” ••

Ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­

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