The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers hosted the Los Angeles Girls Flag Football League of Champions Super Bowl, supported by USA Football and Nike, and fueled by Gatorade, to culminate the second season of the girls flag league. The 14 participating teams competed in a 7-on-7 single-game elimination tournament on Sunday, Jan. 29.
The event kicked off with an opening ceremony and welcoming remarks from Rams Coordinator of Social Justice and Football Development Noel Grigsby, Chargers Manager of Football Development Angellica Grayson and CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Southern Section Executive Committee President-Elect and Monrovia Unified School District Director of Secondary Educational Services DR. Paula Hart Rodas. Before the tournament, a coach from each team nominated a captain to recognize and receive a trophy.
"We are always looking for opportunities to increase participation for girls in all our sports in California," said Dr. Rodas. "Bringing flag football provides another opportunity for girls who love football but have not been able to play, either by circumstance or choice, in the other forms of football here in California. It opens another opportunity for kids that are not already participating in other sports that we offer to join the ranks of our athletes. I coached Lawndale High School's girls flag football team last year when I was the principal. What was great about coaching was having a bunch of girls who had never done anything else, who were shy and timid and were not sure about what they were doing. By the end of the season, they were confident and excited. My quarterback, who played pop warner throughout her youth, was told that girls weren't allowed to play high school football. As a senior she took this opportunity, and it really turned her life around. Girls flag football coming to the state of California gives us opportunity to do many wonderful things."
To celebrate girl's flag football as an official sport in California, the Los Angeles Rams worked alongside Gatorade, Nike and USA Football to host the Girls Flag Football League of Champions Super Bowl. Take a look at the best photos from the event!
The Rams and Chargers cosponsored the League of Champions and provided players with uniforms (courtesy of Nike), stipends for coaches, coaching manuals, officials, athletic trainers, as well as equipment and transportation for the seven-week season. The league was made up of 16 teams and 14 participated in the Super Bowl tournament. The league featured teams from Crenshaw High School, Hamilton High School, Hawthorne High School, Inglewood High School, Junípero Serra High School in Gardena, King Drew High School, Lawndale High School, Long Beach Poly High School, Morningside High School, Redondo Union High School, Rise Kohyang High School, Sierra Vista High School, St. Bernard High School and YULA Girls High School. To kick off the second season, the Rams and Chargers hosted their second annual jersey unveiling for the League of Champions at SoFi Stadium. The teams were given their jerseys and received USA Football flag kits and Gatorade products.
"This is all about giving girls a platform. We really want girls to play and have a voice," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "Our approach is to listen, learn and understand. Through discussions with our partners in the school districts, we understood that girls wanted to play. We piloted a league in 2021 with 8 teams and 96 girls and here we are today. Now we have 16 teams with over 400 girls. This is an incredible moment when you think of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and the opportunity for girls to further their education through flag football, and the potential of this being a 2028 Olympic Sport. This goes beyond high school sports. This is a transferable life skill that is connected to the game of football and careers beyond the field. We're excited about the pathways that this event is going to create."
For many young women who played in the tournament, they have always imagined playing football like their male counterparts. For Junípero Serra Cavaliers quarterback Rhandilynn Flores, her vision of playing football began in the fifth grade and now it's finally coming true.
"Flag football has impacted me greatly. I've had opportunities with Nike, Undefeated and was in a commercial," said Flores. "I get to play with girls that understand the game and gain inspiration from other coaches and athletes that have played at high levels. It's been such a great opportunity and I get to play the game that I love the most."
The Junípero Serra Cavaliers went undefeated throughout the tournament and won the championship. Their entire team and MVP received a trophy for their victory and outstanding season.
"Girls flag football at Serra has really changed the culture and dynamic of the girls," said Monique Adams, Girls Flag Football Head Coach at Junípero Serra High School. "The team has taken to it and has been super excited. I've noticed the change of confidence on the campus. It means a lot to them to have this opportunity to come out and express themselves on the field. It builds confidence and it shows them that they can do anything they want. Football is a game of passion, and a lot of times girls are quiet with their passion, so for them to come out and exert that is everything. They're learning camaraderie, sisterhood, communication, how to get through things and tough it out. We teach them a lot about making sure that on the field no matter what we're here for each other and you got to know how to have commitment."
Last year, the Rams and Chargers partnered to launch the Los Angeles Girls Flag Football League of Champions for eight local high schools. The first season kicked off in January 2022 and the championship match was hosted at the official Super Bowl Experience. Additionally, select League of Champions players participated as Super Bowl LVI coin toss captains.
"Flag football has taught me leadership and how to interact with others because sometimes I can be an introvert. It has taught me how to go outside my comfort zone. No matter the sport you're playing, you are going to have to do some stuff you do not want to do," said Talita Robinson, quarterback at Crenshaw High School. "This experience has helped me build a lot of character. The Rams have also supported and shown us a lot of love. We've been to so many events at SoFi Stadium and it's been amazing. We love the Rams. It is important for girls to play flag football for future generations. I want my kids to play flag football whether they are girls or boys. There should be equality in football. For girls who aren't sure if they want to play football, the opportunity should still be open for them to try."
The goal of the Los Angeles Girls Flag Football League of Champions is to create more opportunities for young women to engage in the game of football and eventually sanction the sport of girls high school flag at the state level to open the door for scholarship opportunities and much more. On Friday, February 3, California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) voted to sanction girls flag football in high schools across California.
The Rams and Chargers believe football is a game that develops transferrable life skills and strong character, promotes health and wellness, enhances opportunities for further education, and broadens perspectives while building a sense of community. The Rams and Chargers view girls flag football as a vehicle to create more pathways for young women in sports.
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.