Joining us from her Greenwich Village abode with her parrot, Poi, perched on her shoulder and wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-Shirt, Andra Douglas is comfortable in her own skin, something that makes it easy to speak with her and feel confident and important. She seems so humble for someone who has literally changed the lives of woman and girls of all ages by helping them find their voice.  

I think it’s hard to find your voice when you’re young. Even when you’re old, it’s hard to find your voice. And I think anything you can do to empower yourself and I’m not talking about being obnoxious because it’s not about butting in and going to the front of the line. It’s not about that. It’s just feeling confident within. And fortunately, participation in women’s sports does do that for women. 

Andra is most known for being one of the driving forces behind bringing women’s professional football to life. In 2000, she acquired the New York Sharks, a women’s tackle football team. She owned the team for 19 years, playing quarterback for the first five. After nineteen seasons of play, Andra sold the Sharks, who will be arguably known as the “winningest” and longest operating women’s tackle football team in the world, boasting a nineteen-season record that includes ten Division Titles, five East Coast Championships, two National Titles (2002, 2018) and one International Title. (2018)

My generation had to be called strange so today’s generation of girls can be normal. Now that women in sports is normal and even acknowledged and, on some level, celebrated, I think it’s going to help a lot for young girls growing up because team sports offers so many life skills. It’s a way to understand communication and camaraderie. You can really believe in yourself, and you can speak up with authority because you feel good.

After she published her first book in 2019, Black and Blue, Sports, Love and the Art of Empowerment, her business partner shared the book with Actress Julie Bowen from Modern Family. Julie said, “Wow, I don’t even know anything about football, and I love this book.” The result, an option for a TV Series produced by Universal Television which is in development. 

The book touches on Andra’s life experience as a non-conforming female growing up in a conservative rural environment, and the subsequent unfurling of her life as an empowered executive and pioneer for women in American football. 

It was really fun to write. It was extremely cathartic because I had all of these emotions, these stories, these feelings ranging the gamut from anger to elation. I had all of this inside and letting it out, whether it was my story or someone else’s story and telling the things that happened to so-and-so, or this one or that one, and how it related to the team, it was very rewarding. The fact that it has been well received validated who I was, what I’ve done, what I want to do. It has really given me a voice that I didn’t know I had.

Andra also created the artwork for the cover of her first book, featuring a collage of her work and the face of one of her players. There are parts in the book that will make you want to laugh, cry and maybe even punch something. Even though the stories have been embellished and the names have been changed to protect the real characters, reading about the Team’s first win will melt your heart and have you cheering out loud. The dialogue is hilarious and pure at the same time. She said that her team members who have read the book really enjoyed the stories and have a better appreciation for what Andra had to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

They (the team) got a better understanding of me as the owner of the team. The things that I went through, the things that the staff sacrificed so that they could get out on the field. I think they have a much better understanding of the challenges, too, that came with putting everything together. The players have challenges, too. Everyone pays to play, so they came up with the required funds to help the Sharks get on the field. They sacrificed time with their families, their jobs, relationships, etc. I always tell my players, look, if you can play and you love this sport, play as long as you can, because once it’s over, it’s over. 

Currently, Andra is creating new artwork which she hopes to showcase soon and she’s waiting for her editor’s feedback on her second book she has just completed. The new book captures the heartbreaks and thrills of 2018, the final season of the New York Sharks.

Andra founded the Fins Up! Foundation for Female Athletics in 2003 which merged with the Women’s Gridiron Foundation in 2015. The foundation provides opportunities for 13 to 17-year-old “at-risk” girls to learn the sport of football as well as the life skills that come along with it. 

You can reach Andra through her website at and social media, @andradouglasart. Her book is available on Amazon: Black & Blue: Love, Sports and the Art of Empowerment: Douglas, Andra: 9781733583503: Books.


Photo Credits: Courtesy of Andra Douglas