Michelle Riddle: A Diva Veteran Teaching and Leading on the O-Line
By Duke Hipp
This profile was written in 2010.
To Divas fans, it may seem like the Divas have always had Michelle Riddle on board. Well, that’s almost the case – almost. While the Divas are wrapping up their tenth anniversary season, it’s Riddle’s ninth with the club. And it’s thanks to players from the team’s inaugural season that Riddle joined the Divas in 2002.
“I was actually recruited by two year-one Divas my first year of playing flag football,” said Riddle. “At the time, they played for the ‘premier’ flag team, and we had just lost to them in a close game…When they approached me after the game, I was a little nervous thinking I may have offended them somehow during the game. I hadn’t. They asked me if I had heard of the D.C. Divas and women’s football. Hearing that there was such a thing was exciting for a woman who has always loved football and wished there was a way she could play tackle.”
When she’s not delivering jarring blocks to the Divas’ opponents, Riddle likes to cook, hike, fish, read, and work out, among other pursuits. And like her fellow D.C. Divas, she has an occupation away from the game. Unlike any of them, however, Riddle’s occupation is teaching four- and five-year-old children.
“My fellow teachers and administrators have been to many of my games and have been wonderful supporters,” added Riddle. “I’ve also had many of my students and their families attend games. It’s been a great way to talk about gender roles with my students using an actual real life model.”
Don’t be fooled though by her career as a schoolteacher off the field. When #61 hits the gridiron, she’s all business. In fact, her favorite memory as a D.C. Diva is probably the best example of Riddle’s mentality between the white lines. It’s a single play from the first time the Divas faced the Pittsburgh Passion at home that sticks out in her mind as the best moment from a career full of them.
On the play, the Divas’ quarterback was being pressured from the opposite side of the line by two Passion defenders and the action was headed Riddle’s way. It was an opportunity to make a play, and that’s just what she did.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was able to get to the lead defender, who never saw me coming,” said Riddle. “I hit her so hard that she flew back and got in the way of the second defender. The sound of the crowd and our bench as I laid that girl out is something I will never forget.”
Plays like that are one of the reasons why Riddle was one of three Divas selected to the USA Football 2010 Women’s National Team. Now, as spring gives way to summer, Riddle is filling a familiar role – providing key veteran leadership as the Divas approach their fifth Eastern Conference championship in seven years.
As the D.C. Divas celebrate a full decade of existence, the franchise has seen a lot of changes over the past ten years. Yet one of the few constants for the Divas anchors their interior offensive line. Michelle Riddle spent this spring doing the same thing she has done the previous eight years: standing and delivering for the D.C. Divas yet again and helping lead the team through another postseason run.