Amy Juang: Delivering the Intensity of a Linebacker in a Small Package
By Duke Hipp
This profile was written in 2010.
Linebackers are a special breed.
Because they’re positioned between the defensive line and secondary, they’re commonly called upon to the see the entire field, read a play as it develops, and react. With each snap of the ball, the linebackers find themselves making split-second decisions as it all unfolds. The quick reading and reacting requires a player who’s able to keep her or his head on a swivel. It also breeds a certain level of…well, intensity.
Though she may be diminutive in stature at just 4’11”, D.C. Diva Amy Juang is all linebacker. And she definitely has the intensity part down. The story behind her nickname sums it up pretty well.
“I’m usually just called ‘Amy J.’ because people mispronounce my last name; but the old nickname I have is ‘Meanie’ or ‘Little Meanie’,” said Juang. “Coach Bleep (Brian West) gave me the name the first season. I’m told that normally I’m a nice person. But when I’m on the football field, I tend to be not-so-nice – even pushing and bruising my own teammates.”
Yep, that’s intensity. But it’s worth noting that her intensity is far from Juang’s only attribute. As a ten-year veteran of the team, the Purdue University alum has a strong love for the game and equally strong commitment to the Divas. From the way she puts it, her commitment was there from year one.
“I joined in 2001 during the inaugural season,” added Juang. “I thought it would be great to be able to try out for the team because I had watched football and always wanted to play. And if I didn’t make it, I was planning to be the watergirl or whatever else to help.”
Of course, the watergirl assignment wasn’t necessary. And in her decade of playing with the Divas, ‘Meanie’ has seen and been a part of it all, including: the very first game (a stinging 40-0 loss to Philadelphia); the 2006 world championship; the unprecedented 19-game winning streak during the 2006-07 seasons; all of the classic battles against Detroit and Boston; and this year’s postseason preparations while serving as a team captain.
But for Juang, amidst the many memories on the field thanks to her ten years with the Divas is one that led to a life-changing development off it. In 2004, she met new Divas assistant coach Jason White and got to know him better while sidelined with a shoulder injury. Three years later, the two were wed and their football union was complete.
Besides spending time with her husband, Juang lists swimming, bicycling, competing in triathlons, cooking, watching movies, and computers as some of her other interests away from the game. Working with computers also happens to be the source of Juang’s occupation – she provides IT support for the federal government.
With a nickname like ‘Meanie,’ what do Juang’s civil service co-workers think of her other job as a tackle football player? “Most are surprised that I play because I don’t seem like Terry Tate, the office linebacker,” Juang said.
That’s a good thing. The Divas need her to save her intensity for gamedays!