DELAY OF GAME: Despite CIF’s approval of girls flag football, school officials say Sunny Hills will not field a team


Jina Han

On Friday, Feb. 3, CIF unanimously approved flag football to become an official high school sport starting the 2023-2024 academic year. With this news, some Sunny Hills students express hopes of the sport coming to campus.

Freshman Jennyfer Rodriguez recalls dodging, sidestepping and outmaneuvering her competitors while the yellow strips around her waist fluttered in the wind.

That was during PE last year when Rodriguez was playing flag football as a wide receiver once a week at Traweek Middle School.  

“Flag football was one of my absolute favorite activities in PE — I felt invincible sometimes,” she said. “I really miss the thrill of just running across the field with the football grasped in my arms with my teammates.”

Though Rodriguez forgot about playing that sport after entering Sunny Hills, the 2023 Super Bowl commercial featuring Mexico’s flag football player, Diana Flores, revived her interest in the game.

“I was pretty amazed because when I watched the Super Bowl, I thought maybe people from our school can also participate in girls flag football,” the freshman said. 

Nathan Le

Technically, this is a possibility as CIF – the governing body over all California high school sports – unanimously approved girls flag football Friday, Feb. 3, to join high school athletics starting the 2023-2024 school year. This adds the state to a growing list of seven others in the country to sanction flag football. 

The games will be seven on seven, with four 12-minute quarters and a running clock for most of the game. The flag football field will be smaller than tackle football’s field dimensions, perhaps 70-80 yards long instead of 100, according to a Saturday, Feb. 4 article from the Orange County Register

But the one thing that will be holding back Rodriguez and any other girl on campus who’s interested in forming a team is the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD].

“Our district is currently evaluating girls flag football and does not currently have a direction that we are moving in; our district will not have girls flag football for next fall,” athletic director Paul Jones said in an email statement to The Accolade.

Creating a team is one thing, but students need to know that FJUHSD officials will also have to consider the financial side as well in terms of searching for and hiring coaches and finding the facilities that teams can practice and play their games at.

“There are no conversations yet about adding it for a lot of reasons,” principal Craig Weinreich said. “We have to look at the feasibility of it. It requires facilities that require all kinds of things.”

For those interested in watching girls flag football next season, they can consider looking at neighboring campuses like those in the Anaheim Union High School District. Oxford Academy, for example, plans to field a team – its first since it has never had a boys football squad.

“If implemented, the sport would take place in the fall, with practices in the spring … Although [Oxford coaches] expect to spend a while teaching the basics, they would approach he sport like a high school boys football program,” the Oxford Academy’s Friday, March 10 article said. 

However, no other schools in the 605 League — the high school athletic conference in southeastern Los Angeles County, California affiliated with the CIF Southern Section — will adopt the sport, and games will likely remain with the district.

Freshman Lesly Flores, who also played flag football in middle school, said she hopes Sunny Hills comes to a similar decision soon. Playing soccer in the spring, Flores said she’s willing to play two sports with flag football in the winter, if the sport gets added.

“I’m sure the situation at Oxford made it more suitable to add a new sport to its athletics, but if another school can do it, I’m sure there’s a way to make it happen here,” Flores said. “It’ll be great to also be one of the first schools to have the sport here.”

Rodriguez said she appreciates the progressive direction female athletics is heading in and hopes to lead bringing the sport to campus. 

“Because I have good memories of playing flag football in middle school, I would love to play again sometime in the three years I have left,” Rodriguez said. “I might even consider just introducing it as a club here if it can’t become an official sport — just to spread more awareness and increase participation. I’ll also try talking about it with my PE teachers.”