The 20th season of the Acreage Girls Flag Football League concluded play with its season-ending tournament on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Acreage Community Park.
This league provides a competitive flag football opportunity for girls ages five to 18. Each year, the league starts play in August and concludes its games by the end of October. The league has four divisions: ages 5 to 7(Freshmen), ages 8 to 10 (Junior Varsity), ages 11 to 13 (Varsity) and ages 14 to 18 (High School).
According to Board Member Charlie Green, there were three teams in the Freshman division, five teams in the Junior Varsity division, five teams in the Varsity division and four teams in the High School division. In all, 155 girls played in the program this fall, where each team had a 10-game regular season schedule. While Green is delighted with the number of players in the league, there is room for growth.
“We have room for more players next year,” Green said. “Our sign-ups will probably start next May.”
Under normal circumstances, this would have been the 21st season for the Acreage Girls Flag Football League, but the league did not play any games last fall because of concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Not only are the girls in the league athletically inclined, they are also bright and creative, as some of the team names are not what you normally associate with football.
“We have team names like the Glitter Powered Purple Panthers, Funky Unicorn Power Girls, Glitter Sparkle Rhinos and Tropical Thunder,” Green said. “The most creative names come from our youngest players in the league.”
The rules used in the league are virtually the same as the ones used at the high school level here in Florida. In fact, the State of Florida is one of a handful of states that offers flag football as a varsity high school sport for girls. In Florida, girls high school flag football is played in the spring. And starting this past spring, girls flag football was a varsity collegiate sport for schools that compete within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). One of those NAIA member schools is Keiser University in West Palm Beach, which competes in the Sun Conference.
In fact, Keiser was a main sponsor of the league this fall, and Keiser’s coaches helped train the volunteer coaches in the Acreage program. Several members of Keiser’s flag football program were present at Acreage Community Park on Saturday, Oct. 30 to provide moral support for the girls on the field.
While the just-completed season may have been the 20th in the history of the league, it was the first season for the league’s all-female board of directors: President Sam Harris, Vice President Melissa Johnson, Treasurer Veronica Poulin, Equipment Manager Casey Frazier, Secretary Ericka Goodrich, Representative Melissa Limauro, and Green, who also serves as a representative on the board. For Harris, Poulin and Frazier, the Acreage Girls Flag Football League means a great deal to them, since they actually started playing in the league back in 2000 when they were teenagers.
Green feels that the new leadership had a successful first season guiding the league.
“I think we learned a great deal about the league,” Green said. “Our parents were happy, the coaches were great and the girls had a good time. We are looking forward to another season of flag football in the fall of 2022.”
Harris is proud to serve because of her passion for flag football and her personal connection to the league. “I love the sport of flag football. I once played in this league, and for Seminole Ridge High School,” Harris said. “I now enjoy watching my daughter play flag football in this league.”
As for the winning post-season tournament teams in each division, in the Freshman division, the Glitter Powered Purple Panthers blanked the Funky Unicorn Power Girls, 12-0. In the Junior Varsity competition, the Purple Ravens edged LT, 6-0. In the Varsity age group, the Daredevils shut out the Killer Bees, 19-0. And in the High School bracket, Team dominated the Purple Monkeys, 33-0.
Several residents of the western communities and former Acreage Girls Flag Football league players are now playing collegiate flag football. Three 2020 graduates of Seminole Ridge High School — Marisa Rubino, Ariana Payne and Emma Wagenman — are now attending college and playing flag football for their universities. Rubino is enrolled at Kansas Wesleyan University, and both Payne and Wagenman are going to school at Keiser University. Allyson Goolsby, a 2020 graduate of Wellington High School, is also enrolled at Keiser. All four girls played flag football this past spring in the inaugural NAIA women’s flag football season.
Two of the girls present on Saturday at the park were a pair of 2021 Seminole Ridge High School graduates and high school flag football teammates, Haylie Young and Chloe Griffin. Both are currently freshmen at Keiser and will be competing this coming spring. Three other current members of Keiser’s flag football team were in attendance. They were Kaley Morton, a quarterback from Dunedin (Florida) High School; Kennedy Foster, a wide receiver from William T. Dwyer High School; and Maria Vega, a linebacker from Keys Gate High School in Homestead.
All of the Keiser University flag football players agreed that they enjoyed seeing the action and supporting the future of the sport of flag football.
As the Acreage Girls Flag Football program continues to grow, there will be more players moving on from local recreation programs, like the one in The Acreage, to a local high school team and then migrating to a college program.
To learn more about the Acreage Girls Flag Football League, visit www.acreagegirlsflagfootball.com.