FCPS teams up with Baltimore Ravens to create girls’ flag football program


Courtesy of Grace Meyer

Girls’ recreational flag football team player Grace Meyer runs the ball for Oakdale.

by Abby Childers, Sports Editor

On National Girls and Women in Sports Day, celebrated on Feb. 1, the Baltimore Ravens announced a partnership with Under Armour and Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). The partnership will introduce the first-ever program for girls’ flag football in the state of Maryland. 

This initiative is intended to provide more gender equality in sports and increase girls’ participation in athletics. The partnership hopes to advance Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s (MPSSAA) mission to develop new athletic opportunities that benefit female student-athletes. 

Currently, there are only programs for girls’ high school flag football in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Florida and Nevada, but this sport is quickly spreading across the nation. With the help of the Baltimore Ravens and Under Armour, Frederick County Public Schools are making an impact by becoming the first county in Maryland to offer girls flag football. This program will provide additional athletic opportunities for girls and ultimately lay the foundation for other school systems across the country. 

Years ago, FCPS first brushed the surface of incorporating girls in football. They worked to partner with MPSSAA to introduce girls’ flag football. 

Unfortunately, the MPSSAA did not think there would be enough interest, and they were not ready to fund a whole new sport, so the program never took off. However, as a result of the initial proposal, FCPS grew increasingly interested in the creation of girls’ flag football teams. 

Although the MPSSAA did not sponsor the new sport, they sent FCPS other resources to support the necessary funding. From there, FCPS decided to reach out directly to the Baltimore Ravens with their idea; that is what sparked the initial communication and creation of this pilot program. 

The Baltimore Ravens committed to three years of funding to 10 FCPS high schools to launch the program. They are donating a total of $250,000, which will provide salaries for coaches and officials and pay for the necessary equipment. 

Under Armour, a leading distributor of athletic wear founded in Baltimore, Md, is also providing 30 sets of new, custom-made uniforms for each of the 10 schools in the program. 

Teams participating in the FCPS league will be included in a Ravens flag football program called RISE, which is the Ravens’ youth football outreach initiative that works to support youth teams in Maryland. This program will allow all of the teams playing for FCPS to collaborate with other players and have greater opportunities, some of which could have benefits even beyond athletics. 

During the 2022-2023 school year, Urbana, Oakdale and Frederick high schools created their own flag football leagues, although they were unaffiliated with FCPS. With the help of Frederick County Parks and Recreation, students created some of the very first organized female flag football teams in Maryland. This student-created league had a large impact on the creation of an FCPS league.

Oakdale High School’s flag football team poses after a game. (Photo courtesy of Grace Meyer)

One member of the Oakdale recreational flag football team, Grace Meyer said, “The season was a lot of fun; we had a lot of success without any of us having much real experience.”

FCPS Supervisor of Athletics and Extracurriculars Kevin Kendro said, “That [the student-created rec league] was a huge inspiration. It provided us [FCPS] with strong evidence that there was interest in our county.” 

Last year, Kendro was invited to attend the community-based girls’ flag football championship. 

“What I saw was a lot of girls having fun, working hard and enjoying the awesome game of girls’ flag [football],” Kendro said.

Despite the success of the recreational league, the players faced many struggles without being supported and funded through FCPS.

“It was tough without the support of FCPS because we practiced in parks, and it [practice] was often cancelled because it got dark, Meyer said. “I’m looking forward to being able to play on our home field with better equipment and uniforms.”

Clearly players are eager to participate and extremely interested in the prospect of a girls’ flag football team; they just need the resources. This pilot program sponsored by the Ravens is solving these problems and paving the way for girls to pursue flag football as a school sport.  

Linganore High School (LHS) sophomore Courtney Hyde plans to play flag football next year when the teams are formed. 

Hyde is passionate about the addition of another girls sport in FCPS. She describes it as “a nice change to the school” and “another great opportunity for girls in sports.”

The addition of a girls’ flag football team will boost FCPS to their 29th sport available to students. The girls’ flag football season will be offered in the fall of 2023 and mirror that of other fall sports, meaning it will begin in August and continue through November. 

Oakdale girls’ flag football team plays in a game at Urbana High School. (Courtesy of Grace Meyer)

Linganore High School Athletic Director Howard Putterman said, “It [the flag football league] is all in the preliminary stages, and a committee has to be formed to create this sport.” 

Although the rules for the program have not been finalized, some ideas have been proposed. For example, FCPS hopes to schedule girls’ flag football games on the same days as JV or varsity football to align with traditional football. 

Linganore junior Grace Booth is also planning to play on the school’s flag football team in the fall and is eager for the opportunity. 

“I think the most exciting part is that girls are finally getting to participate in a predominantly male sport,” Booth said. “It’s huge that girls are now getting this equal opportunity.” 

The structure of the program will be determined by individual schools and the number of uniforms needed. Tryouts will be held and teams will be formed based on the turnout of players.

It is an expectation that schools have a choice between offering one or multiple teams. However, Under Armour will be providing a strict 30 sets of uniforms per school; therefore, if schools form teams larger than 30 girls, the cost of additional uniforms will be absorbed by the school. 

In the case that schools do not have enough interest to field a full team, players will be given the opportunity to combine with other FCPS schools because the goal of FCPS is to get as many girls participating as possible. 

Since FCPS will be the only Maryland county with flag football, there has been discussion of a county championship for the leading teams for the postseason. According to Kendro, the Ravens are interested in supporting some type of championship game, and it is even a possibility that the game could be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. 

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“I really hope this program takes off and other counties get involved, Booth said. “I would love for future classes to experience playoffs and have it become a main sport in schools across Maryland.” 

Kendro expects that “in the years beyond next year, we’ll definitely see a rapid expansion across girls’ flag football.” 

More information for interested students and parents is expected to be announced in the spring or summer of 2023.