Natalie Jahnke is a 25-year-old research and development professional for a Los Angeles bridal company. She's a college graduate, a part-time model and the starting center for the Los Angeles Temptation, one of 10 teams in the Lingerie Football League.
Many Oklahomans were surprised by the league's announcement of plans to expand into Oklahoma City. Mayor Mick Cornett quickly dismissed the idea.
Despite Cornett's reaction, as of Friday evening, about 72 percent of NewsOK.com readers who responded to a poll said they considered the prospective team a good thing for Oklahoma City.
Jahnke said she understands why some Oklahomans might be hesitant to welcome a lingerie football team into the state.
â€œIf anybody can relate, I can,â€ she said. Raised as a conservative, religious Republican, she said her grandparents were shocked when they found out what she was planning to get involved two years ago.
With team names like San Diego Seduction, Dallas Desire, Orlando Fantasy and Philadelphia Passion, it's no wonder grandparents might have concerns about their granddaughter signing on to such a team.
â€œBut then, once you watch two minutes of the game, you really realize that we're out there playing football,â€ she said.
Yes, she's out there playing football in an extremely revealing uniform â€” a pair of tight bikini trunks and a bra top with shoulder pads and a helmet. But Jahnke said the sport isn't all about sex appeal.
â€œI think that's what grabs our audience at first sight,â€ she said. â€œI mean, let's face it, sex sells.â€
But Jahnke insists it's a serious sport and one that the players take seriously, unlike the â€œLingerie Bowlâ€ of six years ago, the concept first kicked off by league Chairman Mitchell Mortaza. Back then, the game was played by Playboy-type models who â€œdidn't care if their clothes were ripped off,â€ Jahnke said.
But as the league evolved, so has the sportsmanship, she said. Now, the 10 teams play four games per season, and the teams with the best records compete against each other in the Lingerie Bowl. Most of the players are models or former professional athletes in another sport.
â€œWe're not just women running around going, â€˜Oh hit me, hit me.' You really see that these women are really concentrating on winning this game and performing with technique,â€ she said.
So why does she think Cornett is against bringing a Lingerie Football team to Oklahoma City?
â€œI think all of us can be quick to judge on something we don't know, something that we haven't experienced. And that's just human nature,â€ she said.