Varsity Flag Football program is part of New York Jets’ first-ever High School Flag Football Media Day at MetLife Stadium

Flag Football Media Day paraticipantsMinisink Valley’s Varsity Flag Football Program was represented at the New York Jets’ Feb. 22 Flag Football Media Day at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with students Vanessa Tepper, Kate O’Neill and Coach Michael Tepper attending.

This first-ever day was similar to what the Jets organization hosts for its players in mid-August, with photo and video opportunities and additional opportunities for players to speak with media outlets who attended.  More than 50 high schools and over 100 players participated.

Flag football girls with keynote speaker “It was a great day, and we were proud to represent Minisink Valley,” said Coach Tepper. “This day was created to help promote the second year of flag football in New York State and to help promote the growth of the game.”

The keynote speaker was Nausicaa Dell’Orto, captain of Italy’s women’s Flag Football national team. She spoke about her upbringing and challenges to form a women’s football team in Italy, stressing to attendees they should play the game and follow their dreams.

Flag football media day participantsNearly 200 high schools throughout New York and New Jersey will participate in girls flag football leagues this year.

“The Jets are proud to continue supporting Girls Flag Football as the sport transitions from an independent league to a State-run sport in New York and New Jersey,” Jets President Hymie Elhai said in a statement.  “Our goal is to give women an equitable platform and opportunity to play what we consider to be the greatest sport in the world. We are excited to see the next generation of Flag football day media participantsfootball players and look forward to the continued development of the sport.”

With the support of the NFL and Nike, flag football grew instantly and was immediately declared an “emerging” sport in 2021 in New York State because four sections had at least four programs. Within one year, there were six sections with at least four programs, which qualified the sport for championship play. Due to that growth, on Feb. 1, 2022, Flag Football was officially recognized by NYSPHSAA as a high school state championship sport starting in the 2024 spring sports season.

flag football dayThis spring, 185 programs within the NYSPHSAA membership are expected to participate in a full season and then be eligible for the inaugural flag football state championship on June 1 and 2.

The New York Jets, Nike and Gatorade announced the expansion of their High School Girls Flag Football League in 2023. The league expanded to over 100 teams in the Hudson Valley — including Minisink Valley — Long Island and New Jersey, building upon the eight New Jersey schools that launched the league in 2021.

A flag field is 80 yards long and 40 yards wide, much smaller than for traditional football. There are cones marking midfield, and each 30- and 10-yard line. Teams have four downs to reach each cone, with the 10-yard line marking the start of the end zone.

There are no kickoffs, and the center tosses, rather than snaps, the ball to the quarterback. After a touchdown, teams can try for one, two or three extra points.