On Saturday( 13 May 2023), Sherwood High School hosted the first-ever Oregon high school girl’s flag football tournament on its brand-new field. In addition to organizing a young league and equipping with the help of their friends at Nike, Rachel Brisson, president of the 22-year-old Portland Fighting Shockwave women’s full-tackle squad, helped organize this prized event.
“The Moms say, ‘I wish we would have done this when I played. The girls are having a blast,’” Brisson says. “We just kept putting momentum behind it and now here we are, eight schools, year one; we’ve already heard from a handful of other schools that are ready for it next year, so it’s growing quickly.”
Scappoose, Astoria, Riverdale, Seaside, Tillamook, South Salem, West Salem, and defending champions Banks were the eight schools battled it out in the inaugural season.
Regarding the Oregon Girls’ Flag Football team, Nick Krupke tweeted:
Hood day in Sherwood, USA 🗻Site of the first girls flag football tournament in the state 🏈 pic.twitter.com/YLua7pf7rp
— Nick Krupke (@NickKrupke) May 13, 2023
Senior at Banks High School, Hailey Evans claims to have learned the game from watching her brothers compete. “So it’s been pretty cool to come out and experience this myself,” Evans says.
Paula Hernandez, a student at Astoria, thinks it’s crucial that the movement gets going and keeps going. “There is no football for girls and we have it now, I guess,” says Lily Zurasky, a freshman at Riverdale. It’s fantastic!
Freshman at Riverdale High School Ailey Johnson added, “I think it’s a really good opportunity for girls to get out there and show that we are not ‘weak,’ we can play football!”
Scappoose boys varsity head coach Sean McNabb has been at the helm for 32 years, and the tribal chief can already see what’s to come.
“I would have never thought that was going to happen,” McNabb said. “I thought, maybe in my P.E. class, right? Play some flag football, but to have it competitive like this, it’s just, we’re evolving. We’re doing some great things and I think this is awesome for these girls to do this.”
According to Brisson, the tournament allows them to participate in a beautiful sport they have all enjoyed watching.
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“It’s a team sport, right? But bringing it to a different level of flag,” Brisson says. “Not a lot of equipment is needed. You need some pylons, which they already have. The schools already have Cones, so it comes down to some flag belts that aren’t even that expensive.”
There’s always an opportunity for improvement, and Oregon is among many states that now permit flag football for high school girls. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for South Salem’s newest student, Lulu Olson.
“This is the most important thing I have ever done personally,” Olson says. “It is the most fun I have ever had.” The next stage is getting flag football recognized by the OSAA as a sport.