Wake County Introduces Flag Football

The Carolina Panthers fund flag football to make a Wake County high school league. Millbrook High School's team pictured above after a practice preparing for their tournament. (Photo courtesy: Dylan Hartsfield)

Football is America’s most popular sport to watch and play, bringing in over 100 million viewers per year. It is a heavily male-dominated sport with very few women playing at any level, and even fewer making it to the collegiate level. If they do, they are most likely in a kicking position. 

According to AT.TV.com, “The growth in interest in women’s football builds on the success of the 2022 UEFA European Women’s Football Championship, which scored a 44 percent increase in global interest in women’s football,” helping lead to flag football’s addition to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics as an official sport.

Now is the perfect time to introduce flag football by acting on the spark in women’s football interest. Building youth teams, first with middle and high-school-aged girls can help to spread the idea of them playing football. 

The Carolina Panthers, North Carolina’s NFL team, agrees —  funding a new high school flag football league and donating $50,000 to the start-up of teams across the state.

Wake County was one of the districts selected for the Carolina Panthers program. The Wake County school system’s women’s high school flag football league kicked off on Saturday, January 27. 

The weekend games were played tournament style to allow the girls to get a feel for games through officiated scrimmages. 

Breakout performances came from the Middle Creek team’s combined scoring of 112-8. As well as Gibbons and Holly Springs, both going undefeated for a 3-0 weekend (via @highschoolOT).

Dylan Hartsfield, sophomore at Millbrook High School, said, “Flag football has been such a fun opportunity to experiment with a new sport and meet new people. I love all of the girls, and we connect really well as a team. We won 2 out of 3 games last weekend and are putting in the work at practices this week to prepare for the upcoming games.” 


Deran Coe, Wake County’s Athletic Director told News & Observer, “ I originally thought that they might have up to 10 schools this season. Instead, 19 of Wake’s 26 high schools started programs for an abbreviated season that will be held over the next three Saturdays.”

Leesville Road High School is not one of the schools participating which has caused some of the students to question why. 

Amanda Leggett, junior, believes it would be a good fit at Leesville [because] “It brings people together, just like the Powderpuff games did. I think that a lot of people will be interested in participating, and I think we could have a good competitive team.”

Amanda reached out to Mrs. Jacobs who told her that we would need referees and funding for a team that we didn’t even have at the time. Also, Leesville was left out of the Wake County teams, to begin with, so we’d have to join the league first. 

Flag football is only club-level at the moment, but the goal for the future is to make it into a varsity sport. It is right on the edge of having enough participation in order to be officially sanctioned as a sport in Wake County.

In order for Leesville to have a chance at participating, students need to take action now.


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