Girls Varsity Flag Football Joins Spring Sports

Kristy Lopez, Copy Editor / Social Media Manager

Spring sports for Monroe-Woodbury High School began on March 13, 2023, and consist of typical sports such as tennis, lacrosse, and softball, but this year a girls flag football team was formed for the first time.
Flag football is a game with the same basic rules as regular tackle football. A team of seven athletes moves the ball across the field to cross the goal line to score points. The team that gains the most points is the winner.
The major difference between the two sports is that a match in regular football ends when the person with the ball is tackled by an opposing player, meanwhile a flag football match is considered done when a player’s loose-fitting belt is pulled down. In flag football, players are not supposed to tackle one another.
In May 2020, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and National Football League announced that flag football would be considered a varsity sport for female students. Monroe-Woodbury’s all-girl varsity flag football team is coached by Coach Santoianni and Coach Schellburg.
Many high schools in New York State have also created varsity flag football teams, such as Valley Central Senior High School, Cornwall Central High School, and Newburgh Free Academy.
“I always dreamed of having a girls’ flag football team. When Coach Santoianni and myself heard it was going on, we grabbed hold of the opportunity,” said Coach Schellburg.
According to Coach Schellburg, the National Football League personally sponsors any school that is creating a team by supplying equipment and uniforms. The team was also invited to go to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, where former and current football players helped the team train.
Junior Sara Mendez said, “[i] wanted to try something new. We [the team] are adapting to this new game well and we’re doing good! Memorizing and executing plays have been challenging though.”
Ariana Torrellas, a freshman, is excited to be on the team and said, “I heard about the team from Coach Santos [Coach Santoianni]. The coaches are amazing and supportive of us and the team is bonding as we keep going. We’re working on speed and communication.”
Coach Santoianni is happy with the outcome of this year’s team and says that the members “bring good qualities” to the team and she is excited about their upcoming tournaments.
“The girls are so energetic, this is something that’s brand new to them. They’re focused and working hard. They’re learning their plays and helping each other. I’m looking for success across the board,” said Coach Schellburg.