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New Section 2 girls’ flag football league set to kick off this spring – Troy Record - FlagSpin

New Section 2 girls’ flag football league set to kick off this spring – Troy Record

The creation of a girls flag football league in Section 2 was announced at a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at the Laborers Local 190 conference center in Glenmont, N.Y. (MIKE GWIZDALA – MEDIANEWS GROUP).

GLENMONT, N.Y. — On National Girls & Women in Sports Day, a new sport has joined the Section 2 sports scene. Girls flag football. Members from the Suburban Council Conference, NYSPHSAA, Section 2, KidzFirst, the New York Giants, and New York State Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, gathered Wednesday at the Laborers Local 190 conference center in Glenmont, to make the announcement.

Among the pioneering players excited to make her mark on the gridiron is Troy High School senior Dakota Dayton.

“It feels like a fire has been set inside of me and just seeing everybody here today rooting me on, just everything, the whole Section 2, it’s truly honoring, it really is,” Dayton remarked on the community coming together and bringing the dream to fruition.

Dayton, who has also played softball and soccer for the Flying Horses, detailed what interested her in becoming involved with the sport last year.

“Last year was the first year that we had our flag football team. A lot of the teachers and coaches were encouraging it and I figured I’d try it,” Dayton said.

“I’ve grown up playing football my whole life, I kinda always had a love for it but it was never really a girl’s sport, it was never anything I could get into or see myself doing. So with girls’ flag, I thought I’d try it out, I did and I absolutely loved it! Now just watching it take off the way it is, it’s really awesome to watch,” Dayton exclaimed.

“I play center, so I snap the ball to the quarterback, I feel like I’m right there, I either have to run a play or I’ll have to stand there and guard but it feels amazing just hearing the crowd and my teammates on the sideline cheering me on. It’s really like a fire inside of me, it’s awesome, it’s so encouraging,” Dayton noted on what drives her to play.

Thanks to Section 2 adding 12 teams, including Troy, Albany, Bethlehem, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Columbia, Colonie, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Shaker, Shenendehowa, and Albany Leadership, she won’t have to drive nearly as far this year.

“So this year we’ll be going against 12 other teams in Section 2, so a lot of Shen and Watervliet and my friends from other schools I’ll be going against, so it’s gonna be completely different but I’m really, really excited,” Dayton said.

“Last year I think there was only one game that wasn’t an hour away. All of our other games, there was one that was almost two hours. So, the whole bus ride you gotta mental prep. You can get yourself amped up and everything but it’ll be a lot different this year with only having to drive 15 minutes up to Shen. I look forward to it,” Dayton commented on the more forgiving travel schedule this season.

Dayton also spoke about what those new to the sport can expect to see on the football field.

“I would recommend it to anybody really. It’s eye-opening to see women out on the field playing something you would consider a men’s sport. It’s not just men’s anymore, same with wrestling, there’s girls wrestling and girls football now, it is possible and we can do it,” Dayton explained.

She additionally remarked on what it means to be among the first wave of flag football pioneers in the Capital Region.

“It’s truly honoring. Knowing that, granted it’s my senior year so it’s kinda the last year I can do it but knowing that there’s girls who are gonna be able to do it in middle school, through high school, it’s so encouraging and I praise those girls and I hope they do take that opportunity, I think everybody should try it, if you like it, if you don’t, you never have to play it again but if I hadn’t tried it last year, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It was nice seeing that opportunity for myself and I’m glad I took it up,” Dayton added.

Along with KidzFirst and Laborers Local 190 helping provide a training recruitment program associated with the league, the NFL’s Giants have donated $30,000 to support the sport and help pay for equipment. Among those representing the Giants was Tara Belinsky, Giants Manager of Community Relations and Youth Football. Belinsky, a Manhasset native and a former student-athlete and graduate of the University at Albany, expressed her enthusiasm for being able to be a part of the growth of the sport.

It was a full circle moment for Belinsky, who grew up playing football in the backyard with her brother and would make the summer pilgrimage to Giants training camp at UAlbany in the summer.

“I think that the reality that girls are playing football and competing for a state championship is something that I could never have dreamed of as a high schooler, so being here today for the New York Giants and making this opportunity a reality is something that’s truly special,” Belinsky said.

Belinsky also spoke about the groundbreaking history these girls are making in expanding the sport.

“We had Dakota in the crowd as a student-athlete from Troy High School, she is making history for the state. She is making history in the Section,” Belinsky said.

“I think being able to be part of that, these girls realize the moment that’s in front of them and you can see it when they’re playing, you can see it when they’re in practice, you can see it in the classroom and they’re making the most of the opportunity and I think that’s why you’re seeing such an outpouring of support from every single group involved in the game,” Belinsky noted on the community coming together to support the growth of girls flag football.

Belinsky additionally remarked on how flag football has exploded from an introductory game in elementary school to an Olympic sport in 2028.

“I think that the pathway that is being created through the game of football now for girls is something that is getting clearer and clearer each day,” Belinsky said.

“Its always been more relevant at the youth level but the fact that it’s relevant at the high school level and something that these girls are participating in and a lot of girls are participating in a spring sport for the first time because flag football is being offered, which is incredible to see and the fact that it’s also a reality at the college level,” Belinsky continued.

“I was fortunate enough to be a student-athlete at the University at Albany and compete in track and field, who knows if flag football was offered maybe that would’ve been the avenue that I took and right now I don’t have to think of that in a hypothetical situation, it’s a decision that girls can be making about their future and ultimately like I said, there’s a chance we could have an olympian in the State of New York that’s participating in 2028, which puts a smile on my face to be even able to think about it,” Belinsky added.

Section 2 flag football is set to kick off on April 10, for the march to a sectional title and ultimately a state championship on June 2 in Cortland.


The creation of a girls flag football league in Section 2 was announced at a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at the Laborers Local 190 conference center in Glenmont, N.Y. (MIKE GWIZDALA – MEDIANEWS GROUP).
The creation of a girls flag football league in Section 2 was announced at a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at the Laborers Local 190 conference center in Glenmont, N.Y. (MIKE GWIZDALA – MEDIANEWS GROUP).

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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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