Olivia Ellis– Mustangs Ahead

LRHS senior Paige Willemsen is a flag football scholarship winner

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Girls flag football has become increasingly popular at LRHS over the past few years.

Elijah Weaver has been the Mustangs’ head coach since 2017, which was the first-year flag football was a recognized Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) sport in Manatee County.

The first team at LRHS consisted of 15 girls, mostly basketball players. Since then, sport has caught the interest of many other girls.

Over the last few years two Mustangs, Shivanie Ghransiam and Paige Willemsen won scholarships for the sport.

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“I believe in recruiting the halls and campus thoroughly, I believe I have approached almost every female that has crossed my path if they are interested in playing flag football,” said Weaver.

Flag football has also gained its popularity through peer-to-peer and word-of-mouth promotion. Social media has also become a huge part of its growth.  

Flag football became an official sport of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) as of 2021 with more than thirty NJCAA programs adding women’s flag football.

The NJCAA stated in their press release, “The NFL will provide a $150,000 grant to the NJCAA Foundation for distribution to NJCAA member colleges that declare their intent in the sport over the next two years.”

Junior varsity (JV) head coach Roosevelt Atkins added, “Don’t come to participate. Come to dominate.”