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TSSAA sanctioning girls’ flag football; local school leaders discuss possibilities | WJHL - FlagSpin

TSSAA sanctioning girls’ flag football; local school leaders discuss possibilities | WJHL

Jayonna Scurry and Slater Teague

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The TSSAA Legislative Council has approved girls’ flag football as a sanctioned emerging sport for 2024-25.

“Emerging sports” must go through a one-year trial but are treated like all other sanctioned sports, except a state championship is not offered.

Science Hill Athletic Director Keith Turner, who is vice president of the TSSAA Legislative Council, said that out of 400 schools in Tennessee, at least 60 have committed to having girls’ flag football teams.

“It will be a spring sport and they will work on what the post-season play will be,” Turner said. “And as it grows and emerges then they will develop their own state championship.”

Turner is not aware of any schools in Northeast Tennessee having girls’ flag football teams. Most are in Middle Tennessee.

“But now that that has passed, I’m sure there will be some conversations that will take place,” Turner said. “The reason that is so popular in Middle Tennessee, Williamson County and surrounding counties is because the Titans organization has helped sponsor and helped get that going.”

Turner said enough local high schools would have to participate to have teams to compete against.

“So even though Science Hill might be able to field a team, we have to have other people to play within a reasonable distance,” Turner said.

Milligan University head women’s flag football coach Ryan Witten said high school girls being able to play will help them recruit locally.

“As more athletes in the State of Tennessee get exposed to flag football and high competition, and then we’ll be able to go out and recruit, it’ll be exciting to go to Nashville and Knoxville and Johnson City, Elizabethton, and recruit a good product,” Witten said.

Witten also said the added experience of having girls already playing flag football in high school will be an asset for them.

Both Turner and Witten said it is important to have inclusivity in sports and give women the opportunity to play football.

“I don’t remember the exact number of girls that’s participating in Tennessee, but the boys’ number is higher. So now we’re adding this sport, it will help bring that number up,” Turner said.

“This is really exciting for our community and just for females in general,” Witten said. “I have four nieces and for them, they’ve grown up around football. Now, they get the opportunity to to play a sport that we’ve all loved.”

Witten said the opportunities for women in flag football are endless.

“We have current players on our team that want to work with flag, the NFL Flag, and they want to go on and maybe they can take a career in this eventually,” Witten said. “So whether it be tackle football or coaching or whatever it is.”

Turner said that if four or five local high schools show interest in having girls’ flag football, then it could start in the area by next year.

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