Allyson Klenke ’10 and Caitlin Hill ’12 have different roles to play.
But both College of Saint Benedict graduates will be on hand Sunday, July 10 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, when the Minnesota Vixen (6-2) face the Boston Renegades (8-0) in the Women’s Football Alliance Pro Division National Championship Game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Central time and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. It’s a rematch of the national title game a year ago when the Renegades topped the Vixen, 42-26.
“Having the game on ESPN2 is really a highlight,” said Klenke, whose team defeated the Cali War 36-30 in the WFA American Conference Championship Game on June 25 in Edina. “Hopefully, it will be a big step forward for our league in terms of expanding our viewership and exposure.
“We’ve had the experience of playing (Boston) in the national championship game a year ago, so we have a better idea now of how they play and what to expect. I think our team has really stepped up this year. We’ve had some ups and downs, but everyone has come together and we’re ready for this challenge.”
Klenke, who graduated from CSB with a double major in art and communication, is in her fifth season as a nose guard for the Vixen, a franchise that dates to 1999, making it the nation’s longest continually operating women’s football team.
The Paynesville High School graduate, who was a member of the CSB track and field team, has nine tackles this season – including three for a loss.
“This year has really felt like a true team effort,” said Klenke, who works as a customer service representative at Allianz Life in Minneapolis. “We’ve leaned on every player on our roster at times and everybody has been getting great playing time.”
Hill, who majored in art and biology, will also be on the Vixen sideline Sunday. The defensive back played for the Vixen from 2017-19 before taking the 2021 season off due to COVID-19 concerns and her marriage to fellow Vixen defensive standout Ace Theissen. The team did not play in 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.
She returned to the field this year but tore an anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during practice in March and has not been able to play in any games.
“That was disappointing,” said Hill, who was the team’s defensive player of the year in 2019. “I was looking forward to being back out there, and in one moment, that came to an end.”
Hill, who got her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 2014 and works as a stem cell biologist for Anatomic Inc., a northeast Minneapolis-based biotech company, has remained with the team, serving as an extra set of eyes on the sideline for her fellow defensive backs.
She’s also been able to cheer on Theissen, who ranks third on the team in tackles with 37 – including 12 for a loss.
“It’s been fun to watch (Theissen) perform on the field and to see the season they’ve been having,” Hill said.
Now both Klenke and Hill said they are ready to help the Vixen bring home a national title from Ohio.
“We know (Boston) is a great team, but we can’t get too wrapped up in all that,” Klenke said. “We have great players of our own. We just have to play our game and take care of what we need to.”