As youth and high school sports slowly return more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seahawks are doing their part to support youth flag football, including a new girls club flag football league featuring Pierce County high schools.
The Seahawks announced Thursday the donation of a $50,000 grant that will support flag football participation for Washington youth, and in partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), Nike and NFL Flag, $25,000 of that donation will go to Tacoma Public Schools to support the launch of the state's first girls club flag football league at the high school level. Nike will give an ADDITIONAL $10,000 THAT will provide each school with equipment and custom uniforms from their new Girls Flag Football line of apparel.
The girls flag football season will kick off May 3 and run through June 13, and will feature teams from 10 Pierce County high schools: Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Stadium, Wilson, Franklin Pierce, Washington, Spanaway Lake, Bethel, and Graham-Kapowsin.
The long-term goal will be to get enough schools participating so girls flag football can become a WIAA sanctioned sport, and if that happens, Nike will give an additional $100,000 in product to support girls flag teams.
"We are so excited for our students to have this opportunity," Tacoma Public Schools Athletic Director James Neil said in a statement. "And we are grateful for the support from partners as we start this inaugural season. This is just the beginning; we hope to continue and grow the program."
Added Mick Hoffman, executive director of the WIAA, "The WIAA is committed to increasing participation opportunities for students across the state. We've seen the negative impact that the absence of sports and activities has had on our student population during the pandemic, and we know that re-engaging our students through sports and activities will be a critical part of the healing process for their overall physical and mental wellbeing. We're excited to support this initiative and help grow participation opportunities for our member schools."
NFL FLAG, which last year named Russell Wilson Chairman as part of a global partnership to strengthen NFL Flag domestically and expand the league internationally, will support the local girls programs through coaching clinics, best practices, and consistent rules.
"NFL FLAG strives to create opportunities for all athletes to play the game of flag football and benefit from the sport's excitement, comradery and fun," Izell Reese, Executive Director of NFL FLAG said in a statement. "We've been privileged to work with NFL FLAG Chairman Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks and are grateful for their support as we work to make flag accessible to more athletes across the country, and around the world."
In addition to the $50,000 grant, the Seahawks are also donating $15,000 to the Seattle Parks & Rec, and $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to create scholarships for kids to participate in flag football programs.
"The Seahawks are committed to spreading a love of the game of football for all youth in our community, so we are thrilled to support additional opportunities for kids to play NFL FLAG," said Chuck Arnold, President, Seattle Seahawks and First & Goal Inc. "Flag football is a fun way for kids to learn the fundamentals of the game, and we believe the new teams in Pierce County will serve as a catalyst for other local high schools to launch girls flag teams in the years to come."