DALLAS, Feb. 2, 2024
A group led by Chicago entrepreneur, philanthropist, USA Gold Medalist and founder of The Clean Junkie, Angelique M. Smith, has been awarded a Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC) expansion team, as officially announced today by WNFC Founder, Odessa Jenkins. The announcement marks continued momentum for women's professional tackle football, signaling the league's unwavering commitment to growth and inclusivity.
Set to begin play in the 2025 season, the city’s newest professional women’s sports team amplifies the league's presence to 17 dynamic teams. The expansion follows a series of strategic additions to the league in 2023 of the Houston Mambas ( led by a group including Deandre Hopkins) and Nashville Trojans (led by Rachael Ortiz) fueling the WNFC's meteoric rise in popularity and relevance.
“We are thrilled about expanding to Chicago and bringing the WNFC to a city with a rich sports legacy, a long history of loyal football fans and a strong thirst for more women’s sports,” said Jenkins, who is also CEO of Chicago-based business and leadership accelerator company Bonfire.“Angelique and her leadership team know how to build and operate a world-class business, as witnessed by the immense success The Clean Junkie has enjoyed serving the Chicago community for many years. Their interest in professional women’s football and the WNFC family is yet another sign of the league’s growth potential.”
The new franchise joins the Chicago Sky (WNBA), Athletes Unlimited Softball, and Chicago Red Stars (NWSL) as the city’s newest women’s professional sports franchise.
Notably, under Smith's stewardship, the franchise’s establishment marks a historic milestone as the first-ever professional sports team in the city to be majority-owned by a Black woman. The achievement parallels the trailblazing path of WNFC Founder, Odessa 'OJ' Jenkins, who has been the league’s majority owner since its inception.
“I am so proud to call Chicago home! Today, at the helm of the newest Chicago pro sports franchise, I am driven by the passion to redefine excellence and empowerment in women's football. This isn't just about bringing more championships to the city; it's about the commitment to elevate the sport and inspire women and girls in Chicago and beyond. I aim to build a legacy that transcends victories, that reflects the enduring spirit of resilience and the pursuit of greatness that my city embodies. The WNFC continues to solidify itself as the preeminent professional women’s sports league. We look forward to supporting the best women’s football players in the world and our team starting in 2025.” Smith remarked-
The 2023 WNFC season delivered record-breaking viewership, championship weekend attendance, digital engagement, and the successful launch of W-SCORE, the league's flagship streaming service.
As the league continues its business transformation, the offseason has featured its most successful digital partnership launch ever with more than 10 million views on live streaming platform CaffeineTV.
As anticipation builds for the forthcoming season (kicking off April 6), details regarding the team's leadership and home stadium will be unveiled in the coming months, promising an exhilarating chapter in Chicago's storied sports legacy.
For more information on Chicago's new WNFC franchise, please visit https://www.wnfcfootball.com/windycity