Politics, like football, is a contact sport, some say, and on the evening of Nov. 12, members of the Colorado Women’s Alliance combined the two at a program featuring Beth Bowlen Wallace, director of special projects for The Denver Broncos.
The well-attended event, held in a private home in Cherry Hills, brought together high powered women (and a few men) who were inspired by the articulate daughter of Broncos football team owner Pat Bowlen.
As Debbie Brown, director of the two-year-old Colorado Women’s Alliance explained, the football theme that night had direct parallels to the game of politics: strategy, team work, perseverance, and leadership. And Brown would know.
Rather than sit on the sidelines, the energetic Arapahoe County Republican recognized that women have a powerful voice and that it needed to be targeted to make an impact on elections. The organization, which was active in 2012, provides research on Colorado women voters, who typically have a higher rate of voting than their male counterparts. The group became involved in the so-called “war on women” during the last presidential election in the state, as well as with local issues. In fact, CWA’s activities have been highlighted by national media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.
More recently, the Colorado Women’s Alliance played a role in helping defeat the statewide Amendment 66 billion dollar tax increase by sharing the views of professional women in television ads and on videos.
They also were involved this year in the contentious school board races in Douglas County. Brown noted that they joined with conservative radio talk show host Mike Rosen to put ads on cable television stations featuring teachers and school board members supportive of the innovation and success of Douglas County Schools.
CWA’s main mission is to create initiatives and common alliances addressing the concerns to women voters, such as providing high quality education to all children, protecting seniors, creating economic vitality, preserving safety and quality of life and providing affordable healthcare.
“I collect passionate women,” Brown said about her umbrella organization. “I have a full binder of women in my house.”
In 2014, Brown said, the Alliance plans on weighing in on the fracking debate. “Women are being misled,” Brown said, “and told things that are simply not true.”
Jane Norton, former lieutenant governor of Colorado, was the go-between from politics to football that night, introducing her good friend Wallace to the several dozen guests.
Wallace attended CU, studied law at DU, and has held a variety of leadership roles, Norton relayed. She serves on the board of Colorado Uplift as well as the Saddle Up Foundation. She is a mother, and an accomplished equestrian and has competed in the National Western Stock Show. But her topic this evening was about football, and more specifically, about perseverance and grace under pressure.
She began by talking about the role models in her life: her father, Pat Bowlen, and her mother Sally, who resides in Hawaii and is involved in philanthropy.
Pat Bowlen, explained his daughter, has always strived to be a competitor and a winner with great character and courage. That has meant, she explained, taking a step back at times and allowing the people he’s hired to shine in their own roles. “It’s showed great confidence and it’s an honor to watch him over the last 30 years.”
Wallace added that her dad celebrated his 300th win in the NFL last week, making the Broncos the winningest franchise in the League.
“Moreover, she said, “the times I found myself in a difficult situation, when handled with grace I have always come out on top.” She said she learned that lesson from her father, who suffered three Super Bowl losses before Denver finally defeated the Green Bay Packers, 31–24, in Super Bowl XXXII. The Broncos repeated as Super Bowl champions the following season, defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, 34–19.
Wallace recounted how she accompanied the Broncos on their journey to the Super Bowl as a wildcard team, and how she briefly contemplated how much easier it might be to have the team lose in the playoffs rather than face another loss in the Super Bowl.
“But I knew we had the right team, the right running game and the confidence of mind to win,” she said.
Green Bay was favored by some 14 points, Wallace continued. “I was a ball of nerves for my dad — it was very painful and emotional” to lose. But on that day in January of 1998, she reminisced, her Dad had given her a special black pass, one of only two allotted for the whole team, which allowed her full access to anywhere in the stadium.
By pre-arranged agreement, the younger Bowlen was to meet her father on the field at the two-minute warning, which was Pat Bowlen’s customary routine on game day. Wallace was ushered to the five-yard line about five minutes before the end of the game, watching the big screen as the Broncos headed in her direction. Running back Terrell Davis had the ball and was heading down the field. “I froze, I was petrified,” Wallace recalled.
“Some reporter saw me practically crying and came and held my hand and said, fourth down and you’ve won. I jumped up and down and burst into tears for carrying me through that moment.” (That reporter, she said during a question and answer session, was broadcaster Bob Costas.)
Later that night, Wallace recounted, she visited her parents’ hotel room. Her father was dressed in a big white robe and Annabel in her pajamas. A huge trunk had been delivered to the room and inside it was the trophy. “We got it out and took self portraits in our pajamas,” Wallace revealed, “and they are the most meaningful pictures today.”
“I get emotional about the first wins,” she said, but they were made more special because of having undergone three previous losses.
“Never forget that,” she said.
See the Nov. 18 print edition for full photo coverage.