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Sask 15U girls flag football team set to compete internationally - FlagSpin

Sask 15U girls flag football team set to compete internationally

A Saskatchewan 15-and-under girls’ flag football team is representing Canada this week at USA Football’s 2024 Junior International Cup in Los Angeles

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A flag football team from Saskatchewan is ready to take on the world.

Team Saskatchewan’s 15-and-under girls’ flag football team, which is based in Regina, is set to represent Team Canada this week at USA Football’s 2024 Junior International Cup in Los Angeles.

“We have an excellent team,” said head coach Tim Seiferling. “We have a lot of high-end athletes.

“I think we’re going to make some noise down there. We want to be competitive every game and put our best foot forward.”

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The tournament features six teams including Canada, the United States, Japan, Panama and two from Mexico.

On Thursday, Canada will take Mexico’s Team AFANL, Team Panama and Mexico’s Team Coahuila in group play before teams are seeded for Friday’s tournament play.

The top two teams from Thursday will earn semifinal berths on Friday while the other four teams will play quarter-final matchups. The gold medal game is set for Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be really fun,” said receiver Ellie Wicks, a 13-year-old Regina product. “It’s just an awesome group of girls and great teammates.”

“We’re expecting that teams especially like the U.S. will be super good,” added quarterback Adley Tomlenovich, who is from Saskatoon. “But we’re also expecting that we’ll be just as good and they should be scared of us too.”

Players from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practice at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. The team is practicing in Regina before departing to California to play at the world championships.
Players from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practice at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. The team is practising in Regina before departing to California to play at the world championships. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

The squad, which featured nine girls from Regina and three from Saskatoon, won the U16 Flag Football National Championship in Kingston, Ont. in May which clinched them a spot at worlds.

“Our team was very steady,” said Tomlenovich. “We didn’t drop down low when we would mess up and we would didn’t get really high when we did good.

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“We stayed really steady and I think that’s what separated us from the other teams.”

Ellie Wicks from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina.
Ellie Wicks from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

“We just didn’t stop; we didn’t give up,” added Wicks. “Even if we were down by two touchdowns or something, we just kept going.”

The group — which was selected in May after open tryouts organized through Football Saskatchewan — had just three practices before going to nationals, where they had some ups and downs throughout before beating a powerhouse team from Quebec 28-19 in the gold medal final.

“We came out strong and (Quebec’s) heads were dropping,” said Seiferling. “And when it was 13-0, we were confident we had them at that point just based on body language.

“Momentum switched and they started coming back but we ended up just keeping a positive attitude.

“You could hear the chatter on the sideline and it just took off from that.”

Players from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practice at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina.
Players from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practice at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

In the final, Quebec tied the game 13-13 before Saskatchewan added a touchdown to go up 20-13. Quebec responded with a touchdown but a failed two-point convert made it 20-19.

Then Saskatchewan put the game away after a play call by offensive coordinator Gord Popadynec.

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“He made a gutsy call and decided to pass on a third down and got a long pass and drove it down and scored,” said Seiferling.

Tomlenovich credits her coaches for not only instilling a belief in the team, but for supporting them through the ups and downs of the Canadian championship.

“I had never gone to nationals before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Tomlenovich. “I didn’t think we would naturally win it all but our coaches kept telling us about how good we were and how good of a shot we had and how they really thought we could win gold.”

While three of the girls from the national championship team can’t make it to L.A., the team has added a couple of recruits for the event.

“Going down to this (tournament), we’re already winning by just being able to represent Canada and either way, it will be a really fun experience,” said Tomlenovich. “And it means a lot that we can do that.

“We’re pretty lucky to be able to do this but we also worked for what we got.”

Quarterback Adley Tomlenovich from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina.
Quarterback Adley Tomlenovich from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

Despite not knowing what the competition will be like, the goal is to come out on top.

“I think it’s going to be pretty intense,” said Tomlenovich. “We were expecting hard competition in nationals but this will be definitely a lot harder.

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“But I think we’ll do really well; we’ve just got to stay to our morals of staying positive and having good attitudes and working together.”

Backup quarterback Cameron Scott from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina.
Backup quarterback Cameron Scott from the Saskatchewan-based girls 15U flag football team practices at Ecole Wilfrid Walker School on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

For Seiferling — who has coached junior and high school football for 30 years — his message to the team heading in is simple.

“It’s doing your best and whatever happens, happens,” he said. “Don’t worry about the outcomes just rely on the systems, rely on your attitude, be coachable and things will be good.”

Roster: Adley Tomlenovich, Avery Heibein, Cameron Scott, Dreya Uhren, Ellie Wicks, Emersen West, Emma Skolney, Gracie Skolney, Ireland McCauley, Miya Hanssen, Molly Freeman, Neko Michell, Olivia Klein, Shay Seefried, head coach Tim Seiferling, assistant coach Gord Popadynec and assistant/chaperone Kerri Michell.

tshire@postmedia.com

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