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Flag Football brings new faces to campus – The Baker Orange - FlagSpin

Flag Football brings new faces to campus – The Baker Orange

Baker Athletics implemented women’s flag football at the beginning of this year, with the team nearly entirely made up of out-of-state students and underclassmen. Flag football has also been on the national front as it’s being included at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

The team has several international students, one of them being Freshman Gabriela Ortega. Ortega moved from Venezuela to play for the flag football team on campus. She said that coming to Baker just made sense. 

Financially it was the best option for me and it is also the first year of the flag football program at Baker, which makes me think that we are making history at this school,” Ortega said. “I feel honored to be a part of these beginnings of flag football history and being an international student gives me hope that someday women in my country will have the same opportunity that I had.” 

However, Ortega is not the only student who moved thousands of miles away from home to join the newly added team. 

Sophomore Daniela Takashima moved to Baldwin City from Mexico to pursue a business major and prelaw minor. Takashima was the first ever recipient of Mexican descent to receive a scholarship in the US for flag football, although she thought she would not be able to use this scholarship as an injury inhibited her from practicing. 

“I thought about quitting, but I love flag football and I heard Coach Willy Perez got the job and I wanted to play for him because I knew about his career life.” She said, “He gave me another chance to play after my injury, and I knew he would take care of his players.” 

Takishima said she feels playing flag at Baker is a big opportunity, I never expected to play at a collegiate level in the USA.” She said, “I feel flattered to be one of the pioneers of the Baker program and I would love in the future for more international kids to come and join.” 

Coach Willy Perez said in an interview with Baker Orange Video’s Tyson Wallace and Sydrionna Rolls that he’s excited to build the women’s team from the ground up, “I get to start fresh and build the program exactly how I like it.” 

“A big keyword I use with these girls is image.” He said, “A lot of people in the community don’t know that women can play football, so it’s an image that I want them to carry to class and on the field; that they are some badass athletes.” 

Perez has coached serval youth flag football teams in several divisions and previously served as head coach at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Florida, whose flag football team competed competitively in their high school division. 

 Perez said that he hopes the team can be competitive this year amongst other up-and-coming flag football teams at surrounding universities like Kansas Wesleyan and Ottawa. Despite the short recruiting window, the coach says he’s optimistic that the team can shock people and begin to take down surrounding teams right out of the gate.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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