Girls flag football sanctioned as official sport in Illinois, IHSA announces

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- Girls flag football was officially sanctioned as a sport in Illinois by IHSA Wednesday.

Four years ago, no schools in the state had flag football. Now, more than 100 schools are competing...

Lane Tech senior star Sadia Rodriquez hopes to play in college on scholarship.

"I have like ten offers right now," Rodriquez said.

With Wednesday's announcement, the sport is expected to grow even more quickly.

"Us sanctioning it brings incredible recognition to the sport which will bring interest from other schools to adopt it," IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said.

While a few girls have played tackle football, the majority of girls high school football experience has been once a year.

"We had the traditional powder puff game where the girls practice like three weeks and have a 45 minute game, and go 'what's next?'" said Jim Geovanes with Oak Park River Forest High School.

Last fall, flag football was added as an Olympic sport.

Juliana Zavala spearheaded the effort to bring flag football to Chicago Public Schools.

"Now they have a league of their own," CPS sports manager Juliana Zavala said. "Now they can walk through the halls, and people can say 'I play football.'"

The sanction has the full support of the Chicago Bears, who hosted the announcement at Halas Hall.

"You have our word as we go forward, as an organization, this will be one of the cornerstones for us to carry forward," Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren said.

The IHSA already has a date on the calendar for the next flag football state championship in October. They have not yet determined where it will be played, but one possibility is Halas Hall.