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Immaculata hosts first women’s flag football tournament - FlagSpin

Immaculata hosts first women’s flag football tournament

MALVERN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — It was a Saturday afternoon full of flag football action at Immaculata University, site of the first-ever Women’s Varsity Flag Football Tournament.

Alexis Navarro is a sophomore soccer player at Neumann University, but on Saturday she repped the Knights as part of its varsity flag football team in its first action at Immaculata.

“In my high school, there was only just a men’s football team, and being told that I can’t play football,” Navarro said. “And now, coming into college and having the chance to do so is a great opportunity.”

Flag football is a contact-limited variant of North American football. Instead of tackling players, the defensive team must remove a flag from the ball carrier. The sport has been growing nationally at the high school level, and it is now a varsity sport at the collegiate level for women.

Navarro’s Neumann was one of four teams to compete in the inaugural women’s varsity flag football tournament, organized by the NCAA Division III Atlantic East Conference. They were joined by hosts Immaculata, Marymount (out of Virginia), and Centenary (New Jersey).

Navarro first got involved through teammate Yasi Robles, who plays field hockey at Neumann, as well, and who played flag back in high school.

“We get to be a little more aggressive,” Robles said. “It’s like a nontraditional sport for women to do, so it’s interesting to see how aggressive we can be. It’s like we’re setting new boundaries for us.”

With the final whistle, the Immaculata varsity women’s flag football team won its first-ever game against Neumann University, 13-7.

“We kind of just worked together,” said player Samantha Rivera. “Towards the end, we got better. I feel like we got the nerves out.”

Rivera says she already loves the competitiveness of track, which she runs for Immaculata, so she was ready to add another outlet by joining the school’s new women’s flag football team.

“That may be one of the reasons why I wanted to join. Because it’s like the first of our school. Like, there’s not many firsts we can do, especially at a college level. So it’s nice to be the first to play on the team.”

By beating Neumann, Immaculata moved on to the championship game against Marymount, who beat Centenary in their first game. Marymount would eventually win the championship.

Jessica Huntley with the Atlantic East Conference said it was a two-year journey to launch the sport at a collegiate level, and there was buy-in from a number of universities and the NFL.

“Football is such an American sport, so just to have that opportunity for women was something that everyone was really excited about,” Huntley said.

Next year, the Atlantic East will see a full season of women’s flag football, with five participating universities and a championship.

Men’s and women’s flag football teams will compete internationally at the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“It’s already exciting now, and everybody’s really supportive and engaged in it — so I can only imagine how much more it’s going to be,” said Robles.

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