Destiny Christian School in Rochester was one of a few dozen schools in New York to receive a grant and invitation to join a pilot high school athletic program, girls flag football. The league is funded through a partnership with the state’s three NFL teams and high school athletic association.
In their inaugural season, DCS will compete against a charter school, a career and tech school, and five public high schools. Excitement among prospective players, coaches, and staff is growing as plans are coming together, according to DCS president Steve Edlin.
“As we recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day, we are thrilled to be a part of this pilot program joining over 40 teams in New York alone,” he said. “We are truly thankful that the Buffalo Bills have chosen Destiny Christian School to be one of only eight schools receiving the grant in Section V.”
The young athletes will have the distinct privilege of attending a preseason camp and scrimmages hosted by the Buffalo Bills. They also get the rare opportunity to play at the home stadium of the Bills, Highmark Stadium. Games begin April 29, with practices set to start in early April.
“This is a historic day for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, as we are able to initiate something in our state that has never been done before thanks to a partnership with the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and New York Jets,” said New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas in a press release.
The athletic association announced the pilot program last week. The partnership will include 48 schools in the state. Destiny will compete in Section V, funded by the Buffalo Bills. One goal of the program is to earn “emerging sport” status from NYSPHSAA in 2023. The program must have at least four teams in four sections competing to reach that status.
Along with support from NFL teams, Nike is donating $100,000 to be evenly distributed to the teams to pay for uniforms and other equipment. Teams will play six to eight games from April through May, and each section may choose to crown a local champion. Games will be played on a regulation-size field with a 7-on-7 format. Rules are set forth by the NYSPHSAA and NFL.
New York Jets Vice President of Community Relations Jessie Linder said, “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.”