The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Shining Diamonds take new shape with prom queen

Welniag snags the pass at practice.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Welniag snags the pass at practice. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

By Sara Pintilie/entertainment editor

Danilyn Welniak, wide receiver for the Dallas Diamonds, a professional women's football team, takes a break from practice. The Diamonds are part of the Independent Women's Football League.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Danilyn Welniak, wide receiver for the Dallas Diamonds, a professional women’s football team, takes a break from practice. The Diamonds are part of the Independent Women’s Football League. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

As the sun sets and winds pick up, the football practice at Pennington Field in Bedford takes some uniformed shape.

The wide receiver faces off against one of the team’s defensive members in a one-on-one drill.

The coach barks “Hut!” and the two jet down the field. The wide receiver springs right only to spin back to the left and past the defense.

Now completely unguarded, the coach throws the ball, but too wide for a catch.

“That was a beautiful route,” the coach says as the former prom queen, Danilyn Welniak, trots back to the line. “That was my bad on the throw.”

Welniak does not seem to mind, though, she is already into the midst of her fellow teammates of the Dallas Diamonds, a professional women’s football team, joking and having a good time.

“[My teammates] are my family,” she said. “I just love everything about [football]. That and the fact that I get to hit people.”

Welniak, now 19, has been a Diamond for two seasons as a wide receiver.

“Dani is one of our most amazing athletes on and off the field,” Kip Watson, free safety and rookie on the Diamonds, said. “Not only is she a talented athlete, she is extremely personable.”

After making the team, Welniak postponed her scholarship to the University of Hawaii, where she is planning to major in marine biology.

“You can’t pass up that opportunity,” she said about making the team. “Hawaii is always going to be there.”

Welniag snags the pass at practice.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Welniag snags the pass at practice. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

But she is going to college on NW Campus.

No one at the coffee shop could have guessed Welniak plays professional football.

Her piercing jade eyes are lighthearted, and she is always smiling, not to mention her striking features worthy of a prom queen.

Her blond hair is tucked behind a pair of sunglasses and she looks rather comfortable in her University of Hawaii sweatshirt and ripped jeans.

Welniak lived most of her walking life in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to Texas eight years ago.

With a love of football since she can remember, she was determined to play on the gridiron.

“I wanted to play football for so long, but as a girl, it is real hard,” she said.

In seventh grade, Welniak even tried to get her school to start a girl’s football team.

She got a petition filled with the necessary signatures and went to the school board, but the board voted against starting the team.

In high school, she played varsity softball and volleyball for the Central High Chargers.

She was friends with everybody at her high school.

“I could get along with a rock,” she joked.

Her senior class voted for prom queen without a traditional court—every girl in the senior class was a possibility. Welniak was crowned.

“It was pretty crazy,” she remembered.

She was also named Ms. Daredevil.

Before she was 18, she tried out for the Diamonds after talking to a member of the team.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, might as well go tryout,” she said.

She remembers thinking, “I’m not going to make it.”

The offense coordinator called her a game changer and gave her a spot on the team, not 20 minutes after her tryout, she said.

Welniak’s aspirations are not all football, though.

After three seasons, she is going to Hawaii to finish her college career.

When she has her marine biology degree in hand, she wants to follow in her idol’s (Steve Irwin) footsteps.

“I admire Steve Irwin with a passion,” she said. “I want to go into marine biology and zoology and someday have my own TV show.”

But right now, she is enjoying playing for the Dallas Diamonds.

Welniak run her routes as Kip Watson, free safety, tries to stop her.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Welniak run her routes as Kip Watson, free safety, tries to stop her. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

Her nickname sometimes is PQ on the team, and the other players joke about her royal status.

Her teammates would joke “Hey, prom queen, did you break a nail?” she said.

Though her fellow players tease her, they all seem to have a tight bond.

“Dani is one of my favorite people in the world,” Rachel May, Diamond’s fullback and Welniak’s best friend on the team, said in between throwing passes at practice.

“She has had an interesting life and still has the best outlook of anyone I know,” May said.

Watson agrees.

“She never meets anyone she doesn’t like,” she said.

Welniak laughs at this before rough housing with May.

“I am really blessed that I get to do this,” she said. “Football is a passion.”

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian