ALL IN THE FOOTWORK: Participants practice their blocking footwork and learn flag football blocking techniques. During the drill, a coach held and moved the ball to one side which participants would have to shuffle over to.
Girls’ flag clinic brings excitement to MCPS
Joshua Singer
ALL IN THE FOOTWORK: Participants practice their blocking footwork and learn flag football blocking techniques. During the drill, a coach held and moved the ball to one side which participants would have to shuffle over to.

Girls’ flag clinic brings excitement to MCPS

GOTTA GO: Junior Sadie Morgenstern prepares to catch the ball on a toss. This station worked on players up field rushing abilities. (Joshua Singer)

MCPS and WJ hit the ground running on Tuesday, June 4 with the first of three girls’ flag football clinics taking place at WJ. The clinic consisted of stations in which participants learned throwing, rushing, receiving, blocking and defensive techniques as well as many of the game’s rules.

At the end of April, MCPS, along with Under Armour and the Baltimore Ravens announced that girls’ flag would be coming to MCPS this fall and that all 25 MCPS high schools would have teams. Last year, Under Armour and the Ravens piloted girls’ flag in Frederick County and used a similar process to what is currently happening in MCPS. The 200 participant clinic was the first public skills girls’ flag clinic for MCPS student-athletes since announcement.

“I think that the turnout for the clinic was awesome and all the girls that were here, their energy was really great. They all were eager to learn and participate and take risks in learning things that they haven’t before. I think this is a great starting point for flag in Montgomery County because their willingness to already jump in is amazing,” MCPS Girls’ Flag Sport Director Jenna Essenmacher, who also has played semi-professionally, said.

The clinic had a mix of participants who were already student-athletes and participants who were looking to play their first high school sport. Freshman Gabby Buggs, who was on WJ’s girls’ varsity basketball team this year, attended the clinic and found some similarities between the two sports.

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  • TOGETHER: NFL Flag Director of Officiating Tom LaNeve pumps up the girls with energy before participating in the drills. LaNeve was filled with pride to be a part of the flag program.

  • STRETCH FOR SUCCESS: Participants stretch out before beginning drills. The clinic had around 250 people show interest interest and over 200 people participated.

  • PULL THAT FLAG: Junior Elsa Santighian runs down the sideline as she tries to avoid getting her flag pulled by the defensive player. The girls’ flag clinic included a pulling the flag drill in which one participant ran down the sideline while another chased in pursuit of the flag.

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“[I think the basketball skills that translate are] being quick on your feet, knowing how to use your body [and] how to be light on your feet too. Also, knowing how to run up and down the field and knowing how to facilitate on offense and defense,” Buggs said.

Both the Ravens and the Washington Commanders sent representation to the clinic. Under Armour is providing funds to MCPS for jerseys and equipment along with the Ravens, who also sent members of their business team to the clinic.

“It was incredible. To see those girls out there was something that all of us that were part of it will truly remember. We started out the first time like this with a student clinic. [We] had all these girls come out [and] saw the interest. [We] had more interest throughout the summer and as we continued for the season, it was gaining momentum and we would go into Frederick County and we’d see the excitement on girls’ faces,” Ravens Senior Director of Fan Development & Activation Kim Ferguson said.

The Ravens were unable to send players or coaches to the clinic due to NFL marketing restrictions stating that Montgomery County is outside of the Ravens marketing zone. However, since Montgomery County is in the Commanders marketing zone, the Commanders sent Josh Morgan, a retired seven-year NFL veteran. Morgan is from D.C. and played at Virginia Tech before playing two seasons for the Commanders (at the time Redskins) in 2012 and 2013.

“It’s a blessing. Any time you can impact the youth in a positive way, it’s a blessing. I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve experienced a lot of highs. I’ve experienced a lot of lows. For me to be able to share my story in life, to share my experiences through college, to share my wisdom throughout the game of sports, especially football, it means everything. My grandmother always told me, ‘It’s a blessing to be a blessing’ and I’m going to try to continue to be a blessing in every way possible,” Morgan said.

The night before the clinic, coaches were trained on how to teach the drills at the Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland.

“I learned what the difference is between flag football and regular football and I learned … rules and regulations,” sophomore Shoshana Berger said.

Even though over 250 people showed interest in the signup process, there was still some skepticism as to how many would actually show up.

“It was really nice to see how many girls were interested. I didn’t think as many girls would be interested before, not just in our school, but in the county,” Walters said.

MCPS plans for the inaugural season to consist of 12 games and they plan to hold more skill-based camps in the future.

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  • TESTING OUT THE ARM! Girls practiced throwing the football back and forth from about 10 yards away. When teaching the participants, the coaches emphasized trying to throw the ball with a spiral.

  • START FAST: Coach Butch Worden leads a quick start and catching drill. Players would have to react to the ball movement as quickly as possible to test how fast they can get off the line without committing a penalty.

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Joshua Singer
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Joshua Singer is a junior and is ecstatic to be a Print Editor-in-Chief in his second full year on The Pitch. In his free time, Josh enjoys running, playing guitar and announcing sports.
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Junior Mateus Bouquet is extremely excited to get started in his first year with the Pitch as a Sports Editor. Along with writing for the pitch, Mateus is a huge football fan and his weekly mood is based on how the Commanders played.
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    Liam BarrettJun 12, 2024 at 8:09 pm

    You’re so good at page layout Seyun 😍 and hats off to Josh and Mateus, very impressive

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