The first two inductees of the newly formed Women’s Football Foundation Hall of Fame will be retired Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back Franco Harris and a rag-tag team of women pro football players from Toledo who captured the city’s imagination during the 1970s, the Toledo Troopers.
The inductions will occur Friday in Rock Hill, S.C., as part of a banquet that will precede the Independent Women’s Football League’s championship game Saturday between the Pittsburgh Passion and the Houston Energy.
Mr. Harris, a part-time owner of the Pittsburgh team, is being inducted for his help in supporting women’s sports in many ways, said Tamara Jarrett, the foundation’s executive director.
The Toledo Troopers, who won seven consecutive national championships in the 1970s on a shoestring budget, were an obvious choice for the foundation because of what that team did to advance women’s sports, Ms. Jarrett said.
“It was easy for us,” she said. “They paved the path for the rest of us.”
Ms. Jarrett is a linebacker for another professional women’s football team, the Carolina Phoenix.
As an 8-year-old growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., she idolized the Troopers and its star running back, Linda Jefferson, she said.
One of Ms. Jefferson’s two appearances on the old ABC Sports television program, The Superstars, made a lasting impression.
“Football, to me, is an expression of our freedom. It’s like being a bird and being able to fly,” Ms. Jarrett said.
The induction is the latest accolade for the Troopers.
The team is the subject of an upcoming feature film being shot in Toledo, Perfect Season: The Untold Story of the Toledo Troopers.
The team was profiled on Facebook and Twitter pages this month by The National Women’s History Museum.
Guy Stout, a co-writer and producer of Perfect Season, was a water boy for the team when it was coached and owned by his father, the late Bill Stout.
He said it’s exciting for him and the film’s other co-writer, Steve Guinan, to see the team get long-overdue recognition. The film aims to show how the team’s women contributed to equality in sports through their mettle and determination.
Since reuniting for the film, former Troopers have attended numerous Toledo-area events, including the Old West End Festival and the Marathon Classic. The team is expected to be honored at a Toledo Mud Hens game in early August.
The film crew is going to South Carolina for the induction ceremony to get footage for the movie, Mr. Stout said.
“We’re pioneers to something great,” said Ms. Jefferson, who is accepting the Hall of Fame induction award with Mr. Stout. “We were not only a team, we were a family. We never left each other. I’m glad the movie came along, because now we can reunite again.”
Ms. Jefferson said she met Mr. Harris when the two dedicated the opening of the Frederick Douglass Community Center on Indiana Avenue. The center opened at its current location in 1979.
“I’m in awe. I have no words that describe my feelings,” said Mitchi Collette, of Elmore, a Tole-do Troopers player who went on to become the head coach and co-owner of the city’s current professional women’s football team, the Toledo Reign. “It’s so exciting. We never thought we were going to be here at this point of our lives.”
Gloria Jimenez — a Toledo Troopers middle linebacker, kicker, and defensive captain — said the Hall of Fame induction “is bringing forth to full circle the legacy of the Toledo Troopers.”
“It’s a big part of my life,” she said. “This is a fun ride right now.”
The Women’s Football Foundation, based in Austin, Texas, promotes contact sports for women. It was created in 2012. It does not have a Hall of Fame building.
Inductees will be recognized online via its Web site womensfootballfoundation.org, Ms. Jarrett said.
Contact Tom Henry at: email@example.com or 419-724-6079.
The Toledo Troopers of the 1970s will be honored Friday by the Women’s Football Foundation.