RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks announced today a commitment of $250,000 in grant funding over the next five years to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) to support the creation of high school girls flag football programs across the state. Nike committed an additional $100,000 in product donations to the WIAA, to provide the schools with uniforms, socks and other accessories, like sports bras, needed to play.
"We are thrilled to commit these funds to the WIAA to create new opportunities for girls across our state to play NFL FLAG," said Chuck Arnold, President, Seattle Seahawks and First & Goal Inc. "The Seahawks are dedicated to spreading a love for the game of football and providing equitable opportunities for youth in athletics. We are proud to support the continued growth of flag football programs year after year, with a long-term goal of having girls flag adopted as an official sanctioned sport in the state of Washington."
This program is part of the $5 million multi-year grant initiative the NFL announced in 2021, in partnership with Nike, dedicated to growing girls flag football — and creating more gender equity — within high school athletics throughout the U.S.
"The WIAA is eager to partner with the Seattle Seahawks and Nike to expand the number of education-based athletic opportunities for girls in our state," said WIAA Executive Director, Mick Hoffman. "It is our hope that this initiative will reach a new group of students who can receive the physical, social and emotional benefits that are tied to participation in sports and activities."
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is the latest local district to form a girls flag football club league at the high school level with support from the WIAA. SPS will host a girls flag jamboree at Seattle Memorial Stadium on February 6, which will include girls flag teams from Nathan Hale, Ingraham, Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach High Schools within Seattle Public School District, as well as teams from Mount Si, Silas, Lincoln, Foss and Stadium High Schools. The Seahawks will bring fanfare to the jamboree with music from DJ Supa Sam, a performance by Blue Thunder, meet & greet with Seahawks Dancers, and a special surprise welcome from a Seahawks player.
"Seattle Public Schools is proud to partner with the Seattle Seahawks and is very grateful for this opportunity," said SPS Assistant Director of Athletics, Alvertis Brooks, Jr. "This support will expand opportunities available for our students as they pursue their athletic and academic endeavors. We also thank the Seattle Majestics and Underdog Sports League for their support and partnership in our jamboree event."
The Seahawks have long supported growing NFL FLAG across the region, and team QB Russell Wilson is the current chairman and ambassador of NFL FLAG. In 2021, Washington state had nearly 10,000 youth participate in NFL FLAG, which was a 40% increase from 2020. In March of 2021, the Seahawks announced a $25,000 commitment in grant funding to launch a girls flag football league with Tacoma Public Schools, which resulted in the creation of girls flag club teams at 10 area high schools in Pierce County.
"Thanks to the support of loyal partners like Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, NFL FLAG has been able to make incredible progress in our mission to expand the game of girls flag football," said NFL FLAG Executive Director, Izell Reese. "I look forward to replicating the success we've had in the state of Washington and creating even more opportunities for young women to compete in flag football at the club, high school and collegiate levels."
Since 2016, there has been a concerted effort from the NFL, its 32 Clubs and football partners to increase high school girls flag football participation across the country. Through these collaborative efforts, over 200,000 female participants between the ages of 6 -17 played flag football in 2021. At the high school level, 14 NFL Clubs have committed to executing pilot programs in collaboration with their state athletic association, while seven states (AL, AK, AZ, FL, GA, NY and NV) have officially sanctioned girls flag as a varsity sport. For the first time in history, the NAIA partnered with the NFL to introduce women's flag football as a collegiate sport for their member institutions.
Washington state schools interested in starting a girls flag team will have the opportunity to apply for funds through the WIAA beginning this spring. For more information on NFL FLAG, or to find a league, click here.