Grab your cleats, girls. A new sport is coming to Glynn County this fall.
Brunswick High and Glynn Academy are both set to compete in flag football for the first time this upcoming season, which will be just the second since the GHSA became the fourth state body to sanction the sport in 2020.
Both schools will compete in Division I, Area 1 for their inaugural seasons, joining a group that’s also made up of Beach, Calvary Day, Islands, Jenkins, Johnson, Long County, McIntosh County Academy and Wayne County. The 10 teams in the area are split into two pods, and the top two teams from each pod will advance to the 32-team state playoff bracket.
The regular season runs from Oct. 7 through Nov. 20 with playoffs to follow over the ensuing two weeks. The Pirates and Terrors are currently scheduled to play eight games over a three-week stretch.
This season the teams will compete in tri-matches at the host school. Home games for Brunswick and Glynn will be played at Lanier Field. BHS is set to play Beach and Islands on Nov. 4 and Johnson on Nov. 9 — which will also feature a contest between Johnson and Glynn.
On Nov. 16, the Pirates and Terrors will face off at Glynn County Stadium.
Warren McClendon Sr. and Daniel Meyers have been pegged to coach Brunswick and Glynn Academy, respectively, as each program looks to get started on the right foot.
For McClendon Sr., the opening popped up at a time when he was prepared to take a step away from coaching to enjoy the remainder of his son, and former Pirate standout, Warren McClendon Jr.’s career at the University of Georgia. But the McClendons bleed blue and gold, and he couldn’t turn down a request to help the school.
“I was actually hoping to break away from any coaching responsibilities because everything is working out so well for my son, so therefore I was hoping to be able to follow him this year and kind of coach as a volunteer,” McClendon Sr. said. “When (Joseph Lanham) called me up, and he told me they were really wanting somebody that knew about football, and they felt like I had the patience to do it, and help get the program started… Not that I was doing it as a favor, but I was doing it to help move the program along.”
Recruiting has began at Brunswick, where McClendon Sr. hopes to find at least 20 players to make up the program’s roster.
Although flag football manages to occupy a relatively empty spot in the schedule for girls’ prep athletics, there is significant overlap with basketball. The scheduling conflict eats up a pool of potential players.
McClendon Sr. has a handful of quality competitors likely on the books, but there’s still plenty of work to be done before the onset of the season.
“I talked to a couple of coaches who have daughters there, so they’re already kind of rogered up to see if they’re going to be a part of the team,” McClendon said. “That gives me some relief, but for the most part, the girls that will make up the main body, I’ve still got to go out there and recruit.”
Meyers does not anticipate interest in the sport to be an issue at Glynn Academy.
The Terrors’ coach estimates as many as 50 girls have already inquired about a position on the team with an informational meeting set for next week.
“If you’ve ever attended one of our powder puff games, the juniors vs. seniors is probably the most vicious sporting event we have on campus, and a lot of fun,” Meyers said. “So I feel the appetite is out there.”
The initial plan is for Glynn Academy to roster 20 players on varsity and form a junior varsity squad made up of girls to develop for future seasons. Meyers believes participation in athletics provides ancillary benefits to education, and he wants to get as many girls involved as he can.
A similar goal inspired the introduction of the sport in the state to begin with. In 2018, the Atlanta Falcons and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation funded flag football at 19 public schools in Gwinnett County to fill in the gaps between male and female athletics. A year later, six counties and 52 Georgia high schools in all were competing at the club level.
Following in the same spirit, Meyers hopes to make the program bigger than sports by planning to bring in speakers such as a former female entrepreneur of the year and local business owners to speak to his players about what it takes to be a woman in the working world.
“I’ve got a passion for athletics in the school system, I feel like they’re a huge support system to how the education process rolls,” Meyers said. “And then I’ve got a special place in my heart for female athletes. It’s not the easiest road to hoe as a female athlete. Society sometimes tells us they’re different.
“I married a female athlete — my wife is a GA graduate, she ran cross country at Stetson University. So I want to make this a sport they feel welcome in, they feel supported in.”