Season wraps for first Missouri girls flag football league; rec league to bridge gap
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - By Tuesday night, it was only boys in pads on the football field at North Kansas City High School. The school district ended play for its pilot Girls Flag Football league the previous Thursday when Staley took on North Kansas City.
The pilot league, involving all four NKC Schools high schools, got a lot of buzz for being the first in the state of Missouri. However, it was just a pilot and its future is uncertain.
It all started in May, when the Chiefs proposed the pilot league to several area districts and North Kansas City jumped at the chance. The Chiefs and Nike paid for uniforms and equipment.
“We had a tryout and then mid-July we started practices. Around two practices a week for six weeks, culminating in the jamboree and then a game,” explained Casey Vokolek, the district’s executive director of student services. “Getting to play on a Friday night in front of a large crowd was a lot of fun for them.”
The season was designed to be abbreviated, because a lot of the girls who signed up were playing for the first time and were already committed to playing other high school sports, including fall sports like softball and volleyball. Ending the season on Sept. 1 allowed them to participate in those sports as well.
“Any time we can promote girls athletics, give our female athletes more opportunities to compete and find something they’re passionate about, we’re going to fully support it,” said Vokolek.
Whether they’ll hit the football field for NKC Schools next year is still up in the air. The Chiefs committed to just the first year, so far, he said. Some of it may hinge on whether other districts sign on.
They are calling it a success regardless, because it brought opportunities like college scouts taking in the talent for possible scholarships in women’s flag football.
“Ottawa University is national champions. A lot of our kids didn’t know. We didn’t know that. So, they’ve been really involved in supporting our girls, coming out to practices and just showing them what their future could hold if this is something they were really passionate about,” said Vokolek.
Meanwhile, a new fall season begins soon in a rec league called Girls Play Flag Football (GPFF).
“This fall GPFF is hosting a community engagement project [with NKC Schools] designed to keep the attention around the sport and continue gathering content for players to share,” said GPFF President Crystal Ford. “We just want to see the sport grow and continue to build pathways for our daughters.”
GPFF already has a league for girls ages 4-18 that plays on Saturdays at the Notre Dame de Sion football field. Ford said they chose the location near I-435 and State Line to be convenient for families across the metro. She said they’ve had girls participate from as far north and Liberty and St. Joseph and as far south as Gardner and Paola. Registration is open through Sept. 24 for their fall season, which runs through Nov. 13.
The league to accommodate the NKC Schools players, using the Oak Park High School Field on Sundays, is new this year.
The 80 girls who played in the NKC Schools pilot league qualify for the free program. They will be split into up to eight teams of 10 players each. The season will run from Oct. 9 through Nov. 13, with three double headers and a tournament.
They are also lining up a winter camp and spring season.
Registration information can be found on the GPFF website.
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