Girls flag football gaining popularity in Southern California

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By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

Girls flag football players from several local high schools received a special treat when they were awarded new jerseys during a presentation held at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium Oct. 13.

The jerseys were given to players from 16 participating high schools in the Rams’ and Chargers’ locker rooms at SoFi Stadium. The teams also received USA Football flag kits and Gatorade products.

The jersey unveiling came on the heels of the CIF Southern Section voting to make girls flag football an official sport beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

The Rams and Chargers co-sponsor the 16 local teams by providing players with uniforms courtesy of Nike, stipends for coaches, coaching manuals, officials, athletic trainers, as well as equipment and transportation for the seven-week season.

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

Following the jersey unveiling, Team USA’s Women’s Flag and Tackle Football athletes, including Darcy Leslie, Elizabeth Sowers and Vanita Krouch, participated in a panel discussion about the power of football and the importance of the league.

“To me flag football is family,” Krouch said. “The people who I have met are loyal. They love you, they support you, you cry together, and you win together.

“The other small part about flag football to me is that it is a sport that anybody can do regardless of size, height, weight or gender. What that guy can do, you can do it, too. It is family and an equalizer. Nothing is impossible, you can do it all. Stay on top of learning the game and never settle.”

The coaches from Inglewood High are excited to be part of the inaugural teams sponsored by the Chargers and Rams 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 team. “The girls have fun, learn teamwork, and gain leadership skills through playing.”

Wanzel King, with the Beyond the Rim Girls Club, is one of the coaches for the Morningside High School team and finds the inclusion of girl’s flag football as a sanctioned sport through CIF a blessing.

“The girls are excited and most play other sports like basketball and this provides cross-training for them,” King said.

She hopes the momentum continues with girl’s flag football becoming a professional sport just as girls’ basketball has.

The girl’s flag football games are played at Ed Vincent Park on weekends.

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

 

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