Girls flag football has taken the Clark County School District by storm, and coaches hope it gets only bigger.
Dave Sevier, president of the Southern Nevada Flag Football Coaches Association and coach of Shadow Ridge, said this year’s start already has generated more buzz than the sport’s inaugural season last year.
“We had to do tryouts this year,” Sevier said. “There were 70 girls that came out. The interest has definitely doubled from last year. A lot of teams couldn’t field a team, and now they have to cut girls.”
Palo Verde coach Kevin Hagood also had to cut girls this season, a year after winning the championship.
“Last year, we had 36 girls come out,” Hagood said. “This year, we had over 100 that showed interest and 63 that showed up for tryouts. Our numbers are almost double in interest.”
Because of the large numbers of participants, junior varsity teams have been added.
“As a coaching staff, we’re now able to build a program,” Sevier said. “You can keep them on a lower level and develop them.”
“It’s huge,” he said. “I can take a lot of freshman and really teach them the game.”
A typical varsity team consists of about 20 players, and the games are two 30-minute halves, played seven on seven.
Since the sport still is in its growing stages, coaches continue to work out the kinks.
“Being the president, I kind of pushed for a lot of different rule changes,” Sevier said. “There were a lot of judgment calls last year. It was a sore subject, but now there are clear-cut rules.”
The district added flag football last year after it was voted over lacrosse in a district-wide survey sent to girls physical education classes. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association does not sanction flag football.
The sport then caught on and has gotten universal support. Parents are just as excited as their girls who play.
“They are very gung-ho,” Sevier said. “I tell the parents bluntly, ‘I’m going to treat your daughter like I treat the boys,’ (and) they’re very responsive to it.”
Sevier and Hagood agree there’s something about the sport that made them return this season.
“The biggest question mark everyone has is this perception that girls can’t be physical and can’t do this or can’t do that,” said Sevier, who also coaches boys football at Shadow Ridge. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve coached in so long. I’d rather coach this than guys. Their eagerness and attitude, I just can’t describe it. They want to please the coaches in every way possible. I kind of ended up just falling in love with it.
“I’ve never had kids this eager to learn. They’re easier to coach because they do exactly what they’re told to do. They don’t have a know-it-all attitude. Whenever I present a new play or deliver something, there’s always 100 questions that come after it.”
Hagood led Palo Verde’s boys soccer team to the state title game in the fall. He also sees a difference in coaching flag football.
“In some sense they want to play the game to perfection,” Hagood said. “It leads to them working hard in practice and always improving. At times, the boys don’t like to be coached. The girls seem to appreciate it a little more. They’re excited that they’re getting the opportunity. It’s a privilege to them.”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.