Published Oct. 5, 2023
BY GRAYDEN MILLER
Kicking off the ‘23 season with varsity football players and a dozen other enthusiastic students, girls’ flag football is making history through its official addition to the sports catalog at Carmel High School, scheduling twice-a-week practices, thrice on game weeks, with the team’s first games set for Sept. 30 at CHS against Alvarez and King City at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
With CHS physical education teacher Phil Johnston as head coach and CHS athletic director Golden Anderson lending a helping hand, the girls started the season Sept. 14. They plan on playing 12 total schools on the peninsula and within the Salinas Union High School District, highlighted by opponents like Stevenson and Hollister.
Having an underclassman-heavy lineup at the first practice, both coaches agree that freshmen and sophomores now have a chance to participate in flag football comparable to Powderpuff, an annual all-girls senior and junior flag football game. Senior Betzy Paz and junior Lola Marciano, both third-year varsity players on the Carmel tackle football team, will be taking a leading role in the flag football program, educating newcomers on where to line up from their prior experience with the sport, according to Johnston.
Paz had roots in football before she got to CHS.
“I’m excited to play flag football because I’ve never played football with other girls other than the Powerpuff game,” says the Padre, who grew up playing football with her friends and family.
After his kindergarten-aged daughter’s flag football participation sparked his passion for the sport, Anderson advocated for flag football at CHS before the California Interscholastic Federation collectively voted for the sport to be sanctioned starting fall 2023.
“When there are more opportunities, especially for young women to get involved, we want to see what those are,” says Anderson, praising the new players’ courage in trying out a new sport.
Last spring, the athletic director held a lunch meeting in the theater to gauge interest for the upcoming season, followed up with a second meeting a week before the first practice that detailed an overview of what flag football is and where practice would be held. The turnout of 15 to 30 students at both meetings was promising, the minimum to participate in the league being five players.
Although Anderson was given the thumbs up to start the season, he had some concerns when it came to interference with other fall sports, especially because flag football has not yet developed an official league schedule and complications can come with new administration.
“At a school our size, and my job as athletic director with our students playing more than one sport, it’s always a touchy subject to add sports because you don’t want to take away from other sports that are thriving, but you also want to offer these opportunities, as folks may like those better,” explains Anderson, adding that he didn’t want to have intense practices and would prefer to get the girls straight on the field. He says that athletes currently enrolled in both fall sports and flag football should show up to practice whenever possible.
The new team was present at the Homecoming Parade in September and will have games Oct. 7 with an undetermined opponent, Oct. 16 against St Francis and Nov. 4 against Salinas and host Hollister at 10 and 11 a.m.