Flagged

Kristen 'Kritter' Ceglia of Tres Pinos turned the corner against Spring Grove during their flag football match at Tres Pinos School recently. In hot pursuit of Ceglia is Maria Sanchez of Spring Grove School.

Local girl football players get a league of their own
Wind rustled through the field as the sun set on a brisk spring
afternoon. This was not any ordinary spring afternoon, however.
On this particular day a football game was taking place
– and it was a very unique game of football.
Instead of boys out on the field getting pumped up to play, it
was middle school girls. With fire in their eyes, the girls were
scattered around the field preparing to play a ‘boys’ game of
football.
Local girl football players get a league of their own

Wind rustled through the field as the sun set on a brisk spring afternoon. This was not any ordinary spring afternoon, however.

On this particular day a football game was taking place – and it was a very unique game of football.

Instead of boys out on the field getting pumped up to play, it was middle school girls. With fire in their eyes, the girls were scattered around the field preparing to play a ‘boys’ game of football.

Aromas students Stephanie Jones and Lauren Bellone got that fire going when they tried to play on the boy’s flag-football team earlier in the school year.

The board of athletic directors decided the year prior that because of the amount of contact still allowed in the league, girls would not be permitted to play due to risk of injury.

Jones and Bellone were adamant about playing football, however.

“When we were told that we could not play we took it like they thought we could not be tough,” Bellone said.

The girls decided to set out and prove to all the guys, including the boys’ flag-football coach, that they could indeed be tough. So they went to Mike Dorney, the Aromas physical education director, and complained.

“They kept bugging me and bugging me so I brought it up at one of our board meetings,” recalled Dorney.

There had been talk about creating a girls flag-football league in previous years but nothing ever really got started. Then Jones and Bellone came along.

Soon enough, the interest to start a girl’s league was very high and after a few meetings, the board of athletic directors created one.

“[The girls] were very instrumental in getting it started, and that’s how you get things done,” Dorney said.

Five schools signed up to play in the inaugural season of girl’s flag-football. Tres Pinos, Spring Grove, Aromas, Oakwood School in Morgan Hill, and Charter School of Morgan Hill are all participating this year. San Juan also had a team at the beginning of the season but had to drop out because they did not have enough players.

Because it is the first year for the league, there were limitations to what the girls could and couldn’t do on the field. Many of the coaches, such Joe Ruggier from Tres Pinos, are just out there teaching the girls the basics and fundamentals of the game.

Even though they are limited in how they play, the girls in this first year have put to rest any thought of girls not being able to play football.

“None of these girls are cheerleader types and because of flag-football they feel like they belong with the boys now,” Ruggier said. “They become more aggressive out there, in a positive way.”

Aaron Netzel is the coach for the girls from Aromas. He too, feels that many of the girls on his team could hang with the boys in a football game.

Netzel is very excited about the number of girls that signed up to play this year and hopes that this league will continue past this year.

“It does not matter that one of the teams had to drop this year. Five teams is more than enough to play a season,” Netzel said. “The girls are just out there to have fun. Hopefully we can keep the league going.”

Many of the girls enjoy the game and take it very seriously.

Maria Sanchez is in eighth grade and is a new student at Spring Grove School this year.

“Playing is really fun. Football is more a manly sport and when I play it, I feel tough,” Sanchez said.

Other students get pleasure from the increase in physicality playing football. Bella Angeles from Spring Grove is a soccer player but was out playing for the flag-football this year.

“I’m glad they brought flag-football to the school,” Angeles said. “It’s more physical and it brings a lot of energy.”

Michelle Vargas and Mary Medeiros, students from Tres Pinos, are out there to prove to the guys that they can play football, too.

“[Playing football] feels different than the other sports,” Medeiros said. “It feels kind of like we are one of the guys now.”

“We are not treated like delicate little flowers anymore,” Vargas said, with a laugh. “I almost wish it was tackle football.”

With the season more than half over most of the girls are ecstatic over how the first year is going. Bellone and Jones, from Aromas, are very proud of their team and what they have accomplished.

The two girls also challenged the boy’s flag-football coach to come out and watch a game or two just to see how good they really are.

“I think that we proved the guys wrong,” Jones said. “That we can play football and that we are pretty good too.”

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