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Chicago Force's Roz Bennett Seeks Title with Star Sister in Attendance

By Justin Breen | August 2, 2013 8:17am
 Chicago Force guard Roz Bennett looks to help her team win a championship for the first time. Bennett's sister, Rhona, is a member of the hit group En Vogue.
Rosalyn Bennett
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KENWOOD — Chicago Force right guard Roz Bennett's biggest fan, her younger sister Rhona, has never seen her play football in person.

Rhona Bennett has had good reason as she's a member of the legendary vocal group En Vogue.

But Rhona, a.k.a. "Ms. R&B", will be in attendance for Saturday's Women's Football Alliance title game between the Force and the four-time champion Dallas Diamonds at San Diego's Balboa Stadium, a few hours' drive from her home in North Hollywood.

The tilt will begin at 8 p.m. Central time and be broadcast live on ESPN3.

"This is right in my backyard, so there's no way I'm going to miss it," said Rhona Bennett, 37. "I'm very interested and excited to see her in action."

 Roz Bennett (l.) is an offensive guard for the Chicago Force women's professional football team. Her younger sister Rhona is a member of the legendary vocal group En Vogue.
Roz Bennett (l.) is an offensive guard for the Chicago Force women's professional football team. Her younger sister Rhona is a member of the legendary vocal group En Vogue.
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Chicago Force (left) and Getty Images

At 42, Roz Bennett, a South Shore resident, is the Force's oldest player. She has been with the club for seven years and didn't know about the Force's existence until a family friend told her in 2007 about the team holding a tryout.

Roz Bennett had no football background and she literally learned to play by reading "Football For Dummies." She absorbed the book's lessons, made the squad and was named its "Offensive Rookie of the Year" after the season.

Bennett and the Force have been in two championship games before, losing 35-29 to Dallas in 2008 at North Park University and 40-36 last season to the San Diego Surge at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"A victory would be the culmination of everything we've gone through," said Force lineman Keesha "Taz" Brooks, also 42 and who, like Bennett, is considering retiring after this season. "We're preparing to take that taste away from last year, when we let the game slip through our fingers."

Bennett seems almost as pumped to see her sister in the stands. Although she is five years older than her famous sister, Roz said Rhona is "my confidant, my friend ... she means the world to me. My sister is everything to me."

Rhona described the siblings, who see each other each year for Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as "like right brain, left brain".

"I am totally immersed in the arts, and she's on the other side ... with science and math," Rhona said.

When they were younger living in Orlando, Fla., Roz would drive Rhona to and from MGM Studios for "The Mickey Mouse Club" shows, where Rhona starred alongside Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.

When Rhona turned 18 and left the "Mousketeers," she moved to Los Angeles by herself, bought her own condo and eventually joined En Vogue, which has earned seven Grammy nominations and still frequently tours the world.

"One thing I like about my sister, whatever she's passionate about, she follows it," Roz said.

Roz has taken the more traditional path in life. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in math education at Alabama State University, then received a master's in educational leadership from Lewis University. She's worked at Dyett High School in Washington Park for the past 10 years, serving as its dean of students for the last six.

"The trait I like best of Roz is that she listens," said her aunt, Jackie Anderson, who spent 40 years working for Chicago Public Schools, including eight as principal at Ella Flagg Young Elementary School in Austin. "I was her educational mentor. She listened to my advice and also valued my opinion."

The Force play their home games at Evanston Township High School. The championship pits two undefeated teams — both were 11-0 — against each other.

Roz is preparing a pregame locker room speech, which will feature a slideshow of inspirational words and slogans. The performance's background music likely will be Whitney Houston's "One Moment In Time."

And while she is having a relatively easy time coming up with her speech's theme, Roz isn't sure if she can grasp the emotion of knowing her No. 1 supporter will be watching her play on women's football's biggest stage.

"I don't know if I can put that into words," she said. "I'm just hoping we can pop some Champagne afterward."