It will be the trip of a lifetime for three local youth flag football teams when they travel to Las Vegas for the NFL Flag Football National tournament on Pro Bowl weekend (Feb. 3-5).
The 8U Falcons made up of third and fourth grade boys, the 10U New England Flag Football League Elite Girls, and the CK Divas middle school 11-13-year-old girls teams all won their respective tournaments to earn a trip to Nationals.
The 8U Falcons, coached by Heath Goudreau, went 5-0 at regionals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on November 12. They’ll represent the Patriots at Nationals in the field of 16 teams in that age division, one from each of the 16 regions of the country.
This is the first year the team is age eligible to go to Nationals, but they have been to previous tournaments in Florida and Pennsylvania. Many of the team members have been playing together since they were six.
“They’re all very excited,” said Goodreau, whose team will fly to Vegas on Feb. 1 and have games Feb. 3-4. “Most teams have tryouts to pick the best players to compete, but we’ve never held a tryout. We jokingly call our team “The Bus Stop Kids” because they all know each other and many go to school together.”
The three third graders on the squad are Jeffrey Watson from Salem, Jack Sheehan from Danvers, and Julian Dalzon from Lynn. The Falcons’ fourth graders are Thomas Goudreau, Jack Bigelow, and Romeo Roc from Danvers; Connor Wozniak from Peabody, Peter Dimitrakopouls of Nahant, and Ethan Vargas from Nashua, N.H. Goudreau and Theritchnider Roc, both from Danvers, are the coaches.
Following their games on Friday and Saturday, Goudreau said the players will be able to attend the Pro Bowl on Sunday. He noted that the NFL pays the team’s entry fee, but they must take care of their own airfare and hotels.
The Falcons are fundraising towards their trip with a Comedy Night ($35) at Prince Pizza in Saugus on Thursday, January 26 and a calendar raffle. Anyone wanting to help can Venmo to Mass-Falcons.
The 10U NEFFL Elite girls won the Flag Football Life National Championship on Jan. 15 at Walt Disney World. The team captains are Swampscott’s Lucy Siefken, Woburn’s Myla Ramos, and Nahant’s Kaileigh Patterson.
Liliana L’Italien, Brooklyn Hanlon, and Phoebe Lafontant are all from Danvers. Peabody’s Skyla Silveira, Topsfield’s Lily Manley, Stoneham’s Alessia Cromwell, Woburn’s Tayah Lesslie, and Haileigh McKanas from Saugus are also key members of the team, which is coached by Terrell Patterson.
The team is supported by several businesses including Red’s Kitchen in Peabody, Dance Center of Danvers, The Portuguese American Club of Woburn, Reck Fitness, McKanas Electric, Santia Deck, and Dr. Jen Welter, along with friends and families.
The CK Divas middle school girls squad punched their ticket to Las Vegas after winning the Patriots Regional in November. The eight local girls, who travel up and down the East Coast for tournaments, just returned from Florida after placing fifth against the best teams in the country, winning four games and losing in the semifinals.
“I didn’t have my full squad because of the expense of going to both Florida and Las Vegas,” said coach Vladimir Lafontant of Danvers, whose 13-year-old daughter Sophia is the team’s quarterback. “A lot of the girls play co-ed flag, while others just play against other girls. I’ve coached several of them for 3-4 years now.
“Flag football is growing more than any other sport for girls and should become a club team at the high school level, with MIAA plans to introduce it as a varsity sport for girls with scholarships given out,” added Lafontant. “We have support from the NFL Flag Football and the New England Patriots.”
Members of the Divas include Gabriella Gosselin, Charlotte Bamford, and Ella Walsh of Peabody; Sophia Lafontant is from Danvers, Emerald Jakes from Manchester-by-the Sea, Ariana Ramos from Woburn, Aliyah Alvarado of Lynn, and Juliana Rivera of Everett. Coaches are Lafontant and Tony Ramos from Woburn.
The team has set up a Go Fund Me page to help support the team with travel, lodging, training, and equipment expenses. To help, go to https://gofund.me/71328014
Contact Jean DePlacido @JeanDePlacidoSN