CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) — On Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools wrapped up the first season of women’s high school flag football.
Chambers won the league title, but it’s not just a championship. It’s about exposure to the sport and the doors it could open as well as the newfound confidence it brings to these young women.
“I was a little scared,” Butler’s freshman Brooklyn Saunders said, describing the first time she stepped out for flag football. “I was like ‘can I catch a ball?’ But it’s been a really fun experience to come here and be able to prove myself wrong and everyone else wrong to be able to play flag football.
Football is such a male dominated sport but young girls also love the sport and with the development of flag football some finally have the chance to participate in the sport they truly love while others can stand out and add to their portfolio. .
“Most of my team don’t play sports, so this is kind of their first high school sport that they played,” Saunders said.
“We have cheerleaders on the team, basketball players. softball players, people who have played football, people who have played volleyball – we have athletes from all sports who play this game,” Chambers coach Tiana Alexander said. “I remember the first day I created the group chat. I left it for maybe five minutes, I came back to over 2,000 messages.
So there’s no doubt that the interest and excitement is there.
While this first year was a pilot program, the hope is to have the sport sanctioned as a varsity sport like it has in 6 other states.
It was sanctioned in Georgia in 2020 and nearly 200 schools have teams and they play and televise their championships the same weekend as the Boys High School Football State Championship.
Flag football is growing, and in doing so, it is opening new doors that these young girls might never have had the chance to walk through beyond high school.
“There are also scholarship opportunities for these young girls at the college level to play flag football,” said CMS athletic director Ericia Turner. “As much as we can create more opportunities for girls, now is the time to do so.”
“But also a thing about coaching,” said Mike Rucker, Panthers legend and women’s soccer league ambassador. “It gives them a different perspective of playing flag football. If they want to be a coach I think there’s a lot of opportunity and you can see where it’s really going to take off and have a lot of altitude as from more and more people are starting to hear about it in different counties in North Carolina.
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