The Washington Prodigy is a full-tackle, local women’s football team that’s a member of the Independent Women’s Football League. It was formed in 2012 and its 2-0 two games into its current season.
This week in the ongoing Blade series spotlighting rookies and veterans in local sports leagues, we shine a light on two LGBT players on the Prodigy team.
Aisha Sandidge grew up in Fort Washington and played soccer along with a year of track & field in high school. Her football career began while she was attending Drexel University where she took up intramural flag football.
After moving back to the D.C. area in 2010, she joined a co-ed flag football league and by the end of 2011 was playing in a women’s league. Sandidge had a few friends on the Prodigy who were encouraging her to join, but she wasn’t ready to commit.
“This year I wanted to try something different and do something new,” Sandidge says. “Once I met more of the players on the team, I knew it was the right choice.”
Sandidge went out for tryouts in November of 2015 and the subsequent player and coach camps. Her position is wide receiver and so far in the first two games of her rookie season, she has only played on special teams. She knows the time will come when she will get more game time.
“More than one-third of the players this year are rookies and when we started practicing, you couldn’t feel the difference between the rookies and veterans,” Sandidge says. “I’ve been on other teams where the rookies get pushed aside. I don’t feel that with the Prodigy.”
Sandidge, who works in the construction industry as a project engineer, says she is “itching to get in there” and for now she is enjoying the give and take between the players.
“Playing football is a great stress reliever for me,” Sandidge says. “I want to challenge myself to be a better athlete and a better person.”
Veteran player Bukola Landis-Aina is one of the original players on the team and isn’t looking to retire anytime soon. There are too many things about the game that are still keeping her engaged.
“When I am playing, I feel like there is nothing else going on in the world,” Landis-Aina says. “If I got stagnant, I would be less interested but I am still getting better.”
Born in Philadelphia, Landis-Aina grew up playing basketball, volleyball and softball. Her parents ended her sports participation in high school in hopes that she would make it to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She more than made it. Landis-Aina completed her degree in chemical engineering at MIT while being a member of the varsity track & field team specializing in shot put and the hammer throw. She followed that up with a law degree from New York University.
After moving to D.C. in 2006 to work in patent litigation, Landis-Aina joined a co-ed flag football league, segued to a women’s league and then to full-contact football. She spent two-and-a-half years with the D.C. Divas and one year with the Baltimore Nighthawks until the Prodigy was formed in 2012. She is also still playing flag football.
“Playing for me is all about physically pushing myself as an athlete,” Landis-Aina says. “I also love the team camaraderie and the feeling of having my teammate’s backs.”
Landis-Aina, who plays center and multiple offensive line positions, was a captain last year and enjoys the responsibilities of being one of the veteran players.
“I feel that need to step up, be on time, be a leader in drills, you know, the front of the line,” Landis-Aina says. “I want to be there to uplift my teammates.”
With their season getting off to such a great start, the players are aiming to keep their winning streak alive this weekend against the New York Sharks at Wilson High School. On May 14, Team D.C. will showcase the Washington Prodigy in its Night OUT series as they take on the Carolina Phoenix.
“This is a team with no negative energy,” Landis-Aina says. “We stand together and we will rise and fall together.”