Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL Lead Way for Girls Flag Football

Durant Girls Flag Football Team at the Bucs Preseason Classic Tournament

Allie Sigl, Design Editor

Athletes sprint down the field as the quarterback scrambles in the pocket, looking for an open receiver. Those on the sidelines hold their breaths as the ball spirals through the air before landing itself in the hands of the tight-end, who runs for a touchdown. The crowd erupts. The Durant Cougars Flag Football Team has just won their second game of the tournament.   

Last weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted their third annual Girls Flag Football Preseason Classic, presented by Advent Health, at the Tournament SportsPlex of Tampa Bay. In an effort to support girls and women in flag football, the Buccaneers created the nation’s largest flag football tournament, celebrating fifty teams and more than 1,200 athletes from across the state of Florida.   

To celebrate the program, Co-Owner and President of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Darcie Glazer Kassewitz was in attendance, along with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and both assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar for the Buccaneers. These ladies all spoke to the athletes after the first day of the competition about the limitless possibilities for women in football. 

The only thing you need to ensure that you build up is that belief in yourself and that confidence you can anything

— Mayor Castor

Durant’s Flag Football team left the tournament undefeated, winning against Freedom and Armwood High School. Sophomore quarterback Maggie Lauber described the event as a “great opportunity” and a fun experience to witness the different teams present.   

According to Durant’s varsity defensive coach Randy Crone, Glazer was on the sidelines during the games, talking to the girls about the sport.   

Along with the Buccaneers, Nike and the NFL have partnered for a $5 million grant multi-year initiative dedicated to growing girls flag football in high school athletics. The program will provide one-time donations of $100,000 in products such as uniforms, socks, and other accessories, to state athletics associations.  

Florida currently leads the way in the sport with over 300 teams. It is one of only seven states – Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and New York – with flag football programs at the high school level.   

Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, commented on the importance of developing the sport. 

“The expansion of girls flag football is essential to the growth of the game and preservation of the values it has contributed to society for decades. Girls flag demonstrates that football is for all, and the greater the participation, the stronger the game, and the more young women can build the transferrable skills football provides for achieving success in life.”   

With over one million fewer high school female athletes than males, mainly due to football, Nike is looking to help close that gap by focusing on highlighting women and young girls who are “blazing paths forward in football.”   

Durant varsity athlete Maggie Lauber and junior-varsity athlete Jeslyn Stamps commented on Nike’s efforts to campaign for girl’s flag.  

“I think it gives us a cool opportunity and gets a lot of people’s attention. Flag football, for girls at least, is under looked and not as hyped as guys football. The sport feels like it grew a lot more these past few years.”  

Barriers continue to break in all levels of football for women. The scholarships and tournament are just the beginning of new opportunities being put into place by the Buccaneers and Nike to sponsor and promote young girls to participate in football from an early age.   

“It means so much to the Buccaneers personally because we believe women and girls can do anything,” said Kassewitz. “We believe you should be in the game, and it’s so, so important to us.”