The inaugural Varsity Girls Flag Football season for participating Orange County high schools opened today, April 5, with Minisink Valley hosting Pine Bush in a 21-19 game won by the Warriors.
“It’s an historical moment for our Athletic Program,” said Athletic Director Tim Bult. “Minisink Valley is proud to join 12 other Section IX schools and welcome girls flag football to our sport team offerings for our students. By joining with other Section IX schools during this first year of the sport, Minisink Valley was also able to take advantage of funding from the New York Jets and the NFL.”
In preparation for the season, the team participated in several scrimmages and attended a New York Jets clinic at the Jets’ Training Center in Florham Park, N.J. to best prepare them for its April 5 opening home game and the season.
Varsity Head Coach Mike Tepper leads the team in a preliminary 12-game season, with these inaugural team members: Hannah Cohen, Sierra Cole, Natalie Cunningham, Patricia Deslandes, Julia Fratto, Emma Gutzeit, Josie Hewett, Ciara Howard, Briana
What is Flag Football?
Flag football is played with two teams of seven players who attempt to score points by moving the ball down the field across the goal line. Contact is limited between players. It’s a variant of American football where, instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end a down. This is known as “deflagging.”
The game is thought to have evolved in the early 1940s during World War II as a recreational sport created for American military personnel to help them stay fit. However, the game was designed in a way that would help prevent them from becoming injured during wartime. At the time it was called “touch and tail football,” which then became “flag football” after the war ended.
A 2023 NYSPHSAA emerging sport which will have championship sport status in 2024
In New York State, 51 high schools formed girls flag teams to compete during the 2022 pilot season, allowing for the formation of a girls flag football committee at the state level and the designation of girls flag as an emerging high school sport for the 2023 season. The Spring 2022 pilot season took place as a result of a collaboration between the New York Giants, New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills, Nike and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA).
In 2023, the number of schools participating in high school girls flag football is anticipated to be over 140 schools. This past February, NYSPHSAA voted to recognize girls flag football as an official high school state championship sport starting in Spring 2024.
The sport has a strong amateur following with several national and international competitions each year sponsored by various associations, but is most popular in the U.S. where it was invented.
“We’re thrilled to have 22 additional students wearing Minisink ‘green and white’ and enjoying the sport this spring season,” Athletic Director Bult added.
“This is a great team sport that teaches leadership, sportsmanship, and self-confidence.”