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Giants celebrate continued growth of Girls Flag Football on National Girls & Women in Sports Day


East Rutherford, N.J.—In celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the New York Giants are proud to announce contributions of $30,000 to both Section 2 Athletics of New York and the Central Connecticut Conference to start high school girls flag football leagues this upcoming spring. In just four years, the Giants support of girls flag football across the tri-state area has increased to 100 high school teams.

The 2024 season will make history for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) as they host a girls flag football state championship for the first time since being recognized as a varsity sport during the 2023 season.

"It is exciting to see the rapid growth of girls flag football throughout New York State. Flag football is providing thousands of student-athletes with the opportunity to participate, to represent their school community and to be part of a team. I am so appreciative of all of the help and assistance we have received from the NFL, New York Giants, New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills to get Flag Football started," said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director.

In just four years, the Giants support of girls flag football across the tri-state area has increased to 100 high school teams.

In New Jersey, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) approved a two-year pilot program beginning this spring. While flag football still remails a club sport, the NJSIAA has created a committee that will work to research and consider the opportunity and impact of the game becoming a varsity sport. This spring season will also feature the inaugural high school girls flag football all-star game at the Phil Simms New Jersey North-South All-Star Football Classic.

The Central Connecticut Conference, this year's grant recipient, will be the newest league created during the 2024 season. In its first official year of play, the conference will have over 15 teams participating in the league.

Girls flag football is growing at a rapid rate within the tri-state, but also globally. The International Olympic Committee made the historic announcement that flag football will make its debut in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. This exciting announcement means that not only will more athletes have the chance to compete at the high school level, but there is also now a path to play at the Olympic level.

The Giants had another memorable year full of engagement with local girls flag football community in 2023 which started with a panel event to celebrate Women's History Month. The panel included Jenn Kisslinger, co-founder of Gridiron Partners Girls Flag; Katie Dichiaro, Head Coach of Somers High School Girls Flag; Brandon Jubrey, President of CT Flag Football; Steve Antonucci, Head Coach of Middletown South Girls' Flag Football; Gianna Pizzano, an athlete for Nutley High School Flag Football; and Angela Baker, Giants Offensive Assistant and two-time IFAF World Champion with Team USA Women's Tackle Team. Giants staff and players had the chance to learn from each of these champions of the game and hear about the progress being made in the sport.

The 2023 spring season continued with Somers High School in Somers, N.Y. hosting over 500 girls from 17 different schools for Section 1's second annual jamboree event. Giants players Xavier McKinney, Sterling Shepard, Matt Peart and Matt Breida were all in attendance to coach the girls in different drills and inspire them to continue their participation in the sport. The participation in the 2023 season in Section 1 was so large that the section was split into two divisions. Eastchester High School was named the Section 1 Division 1 Champion, and Lakeland High School was named the Section 1 Division 2 Champion.

Section 4 continued their second season of play with their kickoff event at Chenango Valley High School in Binghamton, N.Y., where Giants players Dane Belton and Collin Johnson led the girls as they competed in different drills and scrimmages. With the section growing to 14 schools, there were two divisions in the 2023 season with Binghamton High School being named the Section 4 Division 1 Champion and Chenango Forks being named the Section 4 Division 2 Champion.

Section 7 was the newest section to compete through the New York Giants support with 10 schools participating in the inaugural season. Saranac High School finished as the Section 7 Champion and head coach Dylan Everleth was also honored as the Giants' 2023 Week 1 Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Week. The program received a $2,000 grant and tickets to a 2024 Giants pre-season game.

The Giants will continue their support of high school girls flag football in New York State with a $30,000 grant for Section 2 Athletics. The 2024 season will have 12 schools competing for a chance to win a state championship.

The Shore Conference in New Jersey is entering their fourth season of play and has expanded to over 17 schools. The 2023 season started with a clinic for over 400 girls from across the Shore Conference led by Giants Legend Eli Manning and quarterback Daniel Jones. The season ended with newcomer Rumson Fair Haven taking the title which secured them a spot to play during halftime of the Giants vs. Panthers preseason game.

"Having coached high school football for 32 years, the jump to coach girls flag football has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my career," said Steve Antonucci, head coach for the girls flag football team at Middletown South High School. "The growth of girls flag should be no surprise. Girls have waited for their opportunity to show off their skills in a game that was once unavailable for them to play. We have all been witnesses to how much the game has grown in the state of New Jersey and the best is yet to come."

In Connecticut, high schools from the Central Connecticut conference participated in a tournament hosted by Windsor High School which was attended by Giants safety and Windsor alumni, Jason Pinnock. Thanks to Nike's generosity each of the teams were provided with uniforms. The Glastonbury Guardians won the tournament and faced off against Rumson Fair Haven during halftime of the Giants vs. Panthers pre-season game.

"The Central Connecticut Conference is thankful for the opportunity this activity will provide for the girls in our conference, in the state, and nationally. The partnership with the New York Giants, NFL Flag, CT Flag, and our member schools has been invaluable. We hope that this initiative will catapult the growth of girls' flag football in Connecticut," said Trish Witkin, Commissioner of the Central Connecticut Conference.

To celebrate each of the sections and conferences, the Giants partnered with Ford to invite each of the champions to the Quest Diagnostic Training Center for the Built Ford Tough Field Day where each of the teams competed in different activities. The athletes and coaches were joined by team president John Mara, head coach Brian Daboll, wide receiver Darius Slayton and cornerback Adoree' Jackson to celebrate their accomplishments throughout the season with each team receiving a customized trophy.

"We are thrilled to see the continued and dramatic growth of girls flag football in our local communities," said Ethan Medley, Director of Community Relations and Youth Football for the New York Giants. "The most rewarding part are the relationships that we've been able to create by meeting and cheering for almost every single team that we've supported in New York, New Jersey and now Connecticut each year. The girls' enjoyment and passion for the game is as evident as their skill, athleticism and teamwork. The coaches universally rave about their experience, as do the parents who share in their daughter's new passion. There is so much more to come, but the last few years have been a true highlight of our community outreach. One day we will look back and realize that we witnessed the start of an athletic opportunity that will be around for many generations."


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