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Return to Passion after 3-year hiatus 'feels right' for Plum graduate Lauren Ferragonio - FlagSpin

Return to Passion after 3-year hiatus ‘feels right’ for Plum graduate Lauren Ferragonio

The passion for the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team never left Lauren Ferragonio.

That desire to make a difference in the sport is what drives the Plum graduate and Penn Hills resident to put the pads and helmet back on and mix it up again after three years away from competition.

The coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 and 2021 Passion seasons, and conflicts with her work schedule last spring kept Ferragonio away from the field.

“It was always on my mind to get back and make it work,” said Ferragonio, a multiple-time league all-star on the offensive line during her original seven-year run with the team.

“Last year, with the job I had, the work hours and my schedule weren’t super conducive with the practices and the games. I stayed connected to the team and went to a few practices. Everyone had asked me if and when I was coming back. I wanted to make it work, but it just wasn’t the best time.”

Ferragonio currently works in security with the Sto-Rox School District, and, she said, her schedule is better in terms of making practices as well as away games. At first, in the fall, her job kept her busy with so many school activities, so there still was uncertainty about her return to the Passion.

A group of girls Ferragonio coaches on the Sto-Rox girls flag football team also helped give her renewed energy to return to the field.

“We started with 30 girls interested and ended the season with 15 girls who came consistently and were truly invested,” she said.

“It was just a great time. They were super excited to learn and create chemistry. They got better and better. They also gave me a whole new purpose for falling in love with the game all over again. It’s also special to be in a position to remind them that they can do anything they want to do in life as long as they give all they can to make it happen.”

The Passion have held several practices at Sto-Rox.

“I invited the girls to attend some of the practices, and my girls are just obsessed with the Passion,” said Ferragonio, who turns 29 on June 6.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see some future Passion players from that group.”

The Passion are 3-1 and are on a bye this weekend. Their next game is Saturday against the DC Divas at Slippery Rock University.

Ferragonio made her return and season debut May 20 in a 28-6 victory over the Detroit Venom.

“After I registered to come back, I went home and found all my gear,” Ferragonio said.

“I put it all on immediately. Putting the shoulder pads on was nice because I had lost some weight since I last played. The helmet fit just right. It felt great. It felt right.”

The familiar No. 73 jersey was back. She got on the field for several plays during the triumph.

“Coming back in the middle of the season, I am totally content with what the team needs and how they want to use me. When I walked to the field out of the locker room, I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt great to be back. I missed it so much. It had been a part of much of my adult life.”

Sunday marks four years since one of Lauren’s best friends and one of her biggest supporters, her father Fran, passed away at age 64.

“It was difficult to think about playing again without having my dad here,” Ferragonio said.

“But I know he would be thrilled to see me playing. He loved the team. He was at every game. He came to away games. He was our water boy sometimes. He was a part of the team just as much as I was. It’s nice to get back to something he and I enjoyed doing together.”

Ferragonio also remembers Passion team co-owner and Steelers great Franco Harris’ several years of dedication to the team.

Harris passed away Dec. 21 at age 72.

Ferragonio graduated from Plum in 2012. She was a standout on the Mustangs girls soccer team and also played slow-pitch softball in the spring and summer.

Former Passion linebacker Beth Amato, a Gateway graduate and Plum resident, approached Ferragonio about playing in the fall after her graduation.

Ferragonio began practicing and made her Passion debut in spring 2013.

“Growing up with Beth’s family, we knew the Passion was out there, and we had gone to games,” Ferragonio said.

“I didn’t think that I would have a future actually playing for the team. I didn’t realize where my talents would fit in on the football field. It hadn’t been a super-big goal of mine just because I didn’t know what was out there.”

But Ferragonio quickly found a home along the offense line as her strength and her footwork from soccer helped her grow into a consistent starting role.

In addition to her all-star recognition, she represented the Passion and the Women’s Football Alliance on a Team USA squad at an international tournament in 2017.

“It was just a crazy and great experience, nothing I had every experienced before,” said Ferragonio about her initial seven-season tenure.

“The environment was so positive, so much more beyond just playing the game and enjoying all the success we had winning games. When I came in, there were so many players of different ages, experience levels with football and backgrounds. Being just 18 when I came in, I was the youngest player for several years, and I had so many big sisters and role models to look up to. There were so many great stories to tell. It’s that way still. It’s an amazing feeling to still be able to play this game.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 724-226-4665, or via Twitter .

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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