Girls flag football kicks off at RCHS
In 2022, the Denver Broncos made history by inaugurating the first-ever Girls High School Flag Football league in Colorado. Collaborating closely with the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) embarked on this three-year pilot program with the goal of making flag football for girls an officially sanctioned CHSAA sport across the state.
From 25 participating schools in the previous season, the numbers are now up to 44 schools in 2023, with more than 60 teams in the mix. RCHS was selected as one of the institutions to participate. In August, Head Coach Nick Mahan and Assistant Coach Jenna Chapman held tryouts and selected 22 girls to join the varsity team.
“Going into tryouts, Coach Chapman and myself discussed that we were looking for girls who had great footwork, speed and coordination,” said Coach Mahan. “We knew we could teach the girls the game if they had a solid athletic foundation. Aside from athletic ability, we wanted girls who were coachable, enthusiastic about playing a new sport, and who would represent the team positively in the classroom as well as in the community.”
Flag football is a noncontact version of American football. Instead of tackling opponents, players remove flags from an opponent’s belt to stop their progress.
These female athletes are setting a new standard in the world of high school sports. With practices held twice a week after school, they are mastering new skills and learning its complexities. The girls say that it is not just about playing a game, it is about teamwork, strategy and determination.
“Being on Rock Canyon’s first-ever girls flag football team feels amazing,” said sophomore Julia Salas (15), who plays defensive back. “We are making history, and opportunities like this don’t come around very often. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am so happy!”
On Saturdays, the team takes on the competition in jamboree style, playing three games back-to-back against different opponents. This demands adaptability and quick recovery and RCHS has been showing up for the challenge.
“Playing three games every weekend is very challenging, but having a good night’s sleep and a never-give-up attitude is essential,” said sophomore Scout Nortnik (15). “Plus, the support from friends and family is a big factor in helping us to stay motivated to give our best and aim for the victories.”
The team is not only making history but also inspiring future generations of female athletes. Their journey is a symbol of empowerment, breaking gender norms, and proving that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
“I am so excited about what this sport could become. It is so amazing to see the recognition and possible opportunities for athletes,” said freshman Faith Miller (15), who plays wide receiver. “I hope it continues to grow and inspire more girls to pursue a passion for sports.”
Flag football’s growing popularity may open doors for female athletes to pursue collegiate and professional opportunities in the future. Additionally, flag football might be included in the 2028 Olympics as the NFL wants to make it a part of the Summer Olympic Games when the event returns to the United States after 32 years.
Article and photo by Dani Salas