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Riverhead considers adding girls flag football team after statewide pilot program last spring

A girls flag football team may be the newest sport in Riverhead.

Officials at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting discussed the possibility of starting the new team.

Brian Sacks, the director health, physical education and athletics, has been distributing surveys via a Google form to students to gauge interest in the team. The survey began Tuesday.

The idea for the team began when the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Section XI started a pilot program for the sport, he said.

“So, when we were discussing it again this year, we wanted to see the interest of our district,” Mr. Sacks said.

Mr. Sacks said he’ll go over the student responses in about two weeks. Mr. Sacks also outlined what the next steps would be if he found enough interest from the students.

“The next step after that would be to check all the financial abilities of the district to make sure that we can have a team,” he said. “[Then] contact Section XI and discuss being incorporated this year, and then we’d have to find a coach and move forward in that respect.”

Eight schools participated in girls flag football last spring, ranging from large schools like Longwood to smaller schools like Center Moriches. Newsday reported that 51 teams across the state participated in the pilot program. The New York Jets offered grants to support the program to schools in Suffolk and Nassau, while the Giants and Buffalo Bills did the same for other sections in the state, according to NYSPHSAA. Nike also contributed $100,000 used for uniforms across the state.

Flag football is not yet considered a varsity sport in Section XI.

“The expansion of our girls flag football league brings us one step closer to our goal of having the sport adopted as an official varsity sport in both New York and New Jersey in order to continue providing young women with the opportunity to grow and excel on the field and in their daily lives”, said Jessie Linder, the Jets’ vice president of community relations in a media release in February.

Teams follow USA Flag Football Association Rules, according to Section XI, and play seven on seven. Rules align similar to regular football in many ways — minus the hard contact involved with tackling.

Newsday in July honored the inaugural “All Long Island” team for girls flag football and selected Walt Whitman’s Kate Hoffman as the Suffolk Player of the Year after she threw 35 touchdown passes.