First flag football season could be the start of something big

Sports Odds & Ends

The first Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) girls’ flag football season was a success, officials and players both say.

“I feel like any woman could do what they want to do at a young age,” declared Kendria Coleman, age 13, who plays for Olson Middle School. “If you want to do something, you could do it and you got to do a sport, and they can’t tell you less.” 

Her club won both their games in a three-team round-robin tournament last Saturday at the Minnesota Vikings indoor practice facility in Eagan. Olson defeated Andersen 9-0 and Jefferson 12-0. Andersen defeated Jefferson 14-0.

“It was a good day and glad for the turnout,” said MPS Middle School Athletic Director Torrance Hill, who also worked Saturday’s games as an on-field official. The Vikings’ Girls Flag Football Jamboree was the culmination of a three-week inaugural season this month with games played at Roosevelt and South High Schools. 

Prior to the contests, Vikings’ staff and players spoke to the middle-schoolers. Several Vikings players warmed up with the school players and served as honorary co-coaches.

Most of the youngsters were Black. “Our staff cares about them, and we’re fully behind them…to see them grow up and then become future leaders,” said Monterae Carter, the Vikings Foundation’s programs manager.  

The three Minneapolis middle-school teams are laying the groundwork for the future possibility of flag football becoming a sanctioned high school sport in Minnesota, as is currently the case in several other states. The Vikings have committed to fund the sport for three years in this effort.

“I said at the end of the presentation and introductions that they are pioneers,” stated Hill of the players. “I think they’re starting to grasp how important these three teams here can be as the beginning both for Minneapolis and statewide.” 

The first city flag football season, Hill reported showed confidence, emotions and hard work by the players, many of whom were playing football for the first time.

“I didn’t play football before,” admitted 12-year-old Emma Waukazo-Voss of Olson. “I didn’t think I was gonna play, but then I started playing and got better.”

Her teammate, Zenayzia Crite, added, “It was fun…and we’re undefeated.”

“I think it was really nice to see them walking into [the indoor facility]. Their eyes were kind of real wide [open] to see how big the spaces were” they were about to play in, said Carter. “That makes it so real for them to play on the same field that our players play on.”

Concluded Hill, “I’m glad the kids enjoyed themselves. They showed some competitiveness, and some emotion came out, good and bad.”