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Girls Flag Football taking off as it enters Year Two

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

For many, Kenny Chesney’s “The Boys of Fall”, perfectly encapsulates the feelings, experiences and excitement about high school football.

If the current trajectory of Girls Flag Football continues – Taylor Swift may have to come up with “The Girls of Spring”.

The sport – which offers the opportunity to female athletes to hit the gridiron – is seeing exponential growth as it enters its second season.

After being named an emerging sport by NYSPHSAA last summer – Girls Flag Football is set to become an official sport with a state championship starting in 2024.

“I thought it would go quickly, I didn’t think in one year,” Section VI chairperson Marissa Dauria said. “The way people were getting excited about it I wasn’t really surprised. Across the state we’ve seen an explosion in teams.”

“It made me really happy because people are now seeing that girls can play football and it’s something that should be shown off. It’s really fun to watch and play,” Sweet Home junior Yaletsy Tamayo said.

In order to reach official sport-championship status, a sport needs to have at least four teams participating in six sections.

138 teams across eight sections are expected to participate this year.

“We’ve almost tripled in size in one year,” NYSPHSAA Girls Flag Football Coordinator Todd Nelson said. “I think in America football is a very popular sport and female athletes are fans. I think our young ladies want to be active and want to be competitive. Flag Football gives them the opportunity to go out and do the things that they see on Sundays.”

“I think it’s cool that they are offering football to girls,” Sweet Home junior Amber Murak said. “My (family members are) big Bills fans.”

The Buffalo Bills and its NFL counterparts, the New York Jets and New York Giants, have been major forces in getting the sport going. The teams have provided financial support to schools and opened up their facilities to host clinics and scrimmages.

After hosting a preseason clinic for teams from both Section VI and Section V last year, the Bills are hosting another two-day clinic in late April.

“Anything that we’ve asked for from the NFL or NFL clubs or Reigning Champs, they’ve been able to accommodate us,” Nelson says. “It’s overwhelming. We would definitely not be where we are without the support of the NFL and the NFL clubs.”

Section VI leads the state with 28 teams – with about 23 of them competing for a sectional championship in June. That champion will play a “Crossover game” with the Section V champion.  

“I think a big part of that is the Bills’ support,” Dauria said. “I know the NFL in general has put a lot of time into promoting this and showing value towards Girls Flag. And I think there’s a lot of girls out there who played powder puff and they got a little taste of how fun that was.”

Sweet Home assistant coach Cheryl Julicher – who has played touch and flag football on both the local and national level – is happy to pass on the game to a new generation.

“Whether they are fans of an NFL team or just being fans of the sport in general,” Julicher said. “You’ve seen some girls playing with the boys all these years. (It’s nice) to see the girls get the opportunity to play flag and pave something new.”

The Panthers appear to be an early favorite to win the Section VI title after dominating most of their games last season winning the Division II championship.

Sweet Home head coach Chris Monaco didn’t rest on that success starting a modified program over the summer. With help from the Bills, he hopes it can bring the game to younger ages and keep the game going for a long time.

“Every school is excited about it,” Monaco said. “It’s new you get the novelty part of it. The trick is going to be once that novelty part of it wears off to keep the interest high and start building programs.”

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