Compton hosts first girls flag football tournament

By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

COMPTON — A light rain fall didn’t stop two girl’s flag football teams from playing in their final game during a tournament held Dec. 4 at Compton College.

Optimum Speed and Premier faced off during the inaugural tournament featuring girls from local elementary and middle schools from Compton and Downey.

“Girls flag football is new and having girls elementary and middle school-aged league, it was difficult to find other teams to also take part in our league play,” said Jonathan Ligons, president and coach of Optimum Speed. “I made a call to Premier, being another youth sports organization, and just like that we joined forces and made it happen.”

Ligons is a Compton native and Premier, founded by Ellis White, is from Carson.

Optimum Speed Football League is comprised of students from the Compton Unified School District who spent a good portion of their first season competing against Premier, whose students are from nearby Downey.

“It was an honor to have Premier take part in this program working with Optimum Speed and giving opportunities for girls to compete and get on the field learning to play the game the right way,” White said. “We are looking forward to the future opportunities and what future things we can create in girls’ flag football.”

In late September, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which governs high school sports in the state, announced that girls flag football would be a sanctioned sport in the Southern Section in the 2023-24 school year. The Southern Section extends from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to Los Angeles and Orange counties, with the exception of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

During the tournament at Compton College, athletes showed off their skills by participating in drills like the 40-yard dash, longest throw, and 1-on-1 before being divided into their perspective teams and playing a total of three games.

Optimum Speed and Premier played six games against each other and ended the season at Compton College Football Stadium with parents and community members filling the stands.

Compton school board member Satra Zurita was a stronger supporter when the idea to have girls flag football came to her attention.

“I support the therapeutic qualities that help girls build their confidence and comraderie that is honed through organized sports,” Zurita said. “Girls often don’t have the same opportunities that boys have in sports and its time to level the playing field.”

Girls flag football teams are also embraced by the NFL. The Los Angeles Chargers and Rams presented 16 local high school teams with jerseys during a ceremony held at SoFi Stadium Oct. 13.

That league features teams from Crenshaw High School, Gardena Serra High School, Inglewood High School, Hamilton High School, Hawthorne High School, King Drew High School, Lawndale High School, Leuzinger High School, Long Beach Poly High School, Morningside High School, Redondo Union High School, Rise Kohyang High School, Santee High School, Sierra Vista High School, St. Bernard High School and YULA Girls High School.

The coaches from Inglewood were very excited as they were part of the inaugural teams sponsored by the Chargers and Rams earlier this year.

“These jerseys are a blessing as our old jerseys were stolen at the end of last season,” said Jason Beresford, coach of the Inglewood High school team. “The girls have fun, learn teamwork and gain leadership skills through playing.”

Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at