RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks announced today a donation of $50,000 to support flag football participation for youth in the state of Washington. In partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), Nike and NFL FLAG, $25,000 of the funds will be granted to Tacoma Public Schools to launch the state's first girls club flag football league at the high school level starting this spring. Nike has also granted $10,000 to help launch the league and will be providing each school with equipment and custom team Nike uniforms from their new Girls Flag Football line of apparel.
For the 2021 spring season, girls flag club teams will be formed at 10 high schools in Pierce County, including all five comprehensive Tacoma Public School high schools – Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Stadium and Wilson – along with neighboring Franklin Pierce, Washington High School and Spanaway Lake, Bethel and Graham-Kapowsin. The season is set to kickoff April 26 and run through June 13.
"We are so excited for our students to have this opportunity," said James Neil, Tacoma Public Schools Athletic Director. "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."
As part of the program, Nike will be working with the Seahawks, WIAA and NFL FLAG on the long-term goal to have girls flag football adopted as an official sanctioned sport in Washington state, which will unlock an additional $100,000 Nike product grant to the WIAA to support girls flag teams. Nationally, Nike has committed $5 million to helping launch girls flag football programs across the country.
"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," said Mick Hoffman, Executive Director, WIAA. "We're excited to support this initiative and help grow participation opportunities for our member schools."
NFL FLAG is supporting the 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," said Izell Reese, Executive Director of NFL FLAG and GM of Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX), the official operating partner of NFL FLAG. "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."
"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 Jeff Richards, Seahawks Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement. "Flag football is a safe and 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."
The Seahawks are also donating $15,000 to the Seattle Parks & Rec, as well as $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to create scholarships for kids to participate in flag football programs.
"Because of the Seahawks' generosity, more young people across the area will have the opportunity to fall in love with football in a safe and inclusive way," said Laurie Black, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. "Our NFL FLAG programs will include both boys and girls up the age of 14. We are grateful for the Seahawks' partnership and vision to create opportunities help youth build healthy lifestyles, develop leadership skills and, create memories that will last a lifetime."
"Honoring the commitment with giving back to the community, the youth within Seattle Parks and Recreation now have an equitable opportunity to participate in flag football," said Johnnie Williams, Citywide Youth Athletic Program Coordinator, Seattle Parks and Recreation. "Our inclusive co-ed Flag football program caters to ages 8-14. Seattle Parks and Recreation is very grateful for the financial assistance and partnership provided by the Seattle Seahawks. This opportunity will be a game changer in many youths' lives who may not have had alternative options.