Welcome OP’s Girls’ Football Team

Mia Pandža, Editor-in-Chief

New York State is rolling out its pilot season for girls’ flag football, and Orchard Park has seized the opportunity. 

NFL teams are sponsoring girls’ flag football teams across the state. The Buffalo Bills are funding OP and other Western New York schools, while the New York Jets and New York Giants are funding teams in the lower regions. Nike has also donated around $100,000 to the program.

Math teacher Mr. Weiss has taken on the OP girls team. After following closely with rumors of a startup season, Weiss decided to step in. He has experience as the coach for tackle football in the fall and has taken many steps to prepare for his new role. He’s watched clips of games from schools in the south that have had girls teams and has even contacted coaches. Physical education and health teacher Ms. Hornung joins him as assistant coach.

“Practices are chaotic. It’s a brand new program. Everything’s new for everybody. Not just here, but all throughout the state. I’m doing my best to steal things from tackle football that work out really well… The girls are super enthusiastic, so they’re always looking to get started as soon as they can,” Weiss says about practices so far.

According to Weiss, there are 35 girls on the team. There’s an even distribution of grade levels, leading to hope for future seasons. He says they learn quickly, despite how much is thrown at them at once. On top of learning basics like flag-pulling and running routes, they’ve gone in depth on areas like defensive concepts.

“I’ve learned a lot about working with new team members. It’s super cool to be able to play this sport since it’s new, and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it. I can’t wait for this sport to grow,” says Junior player Gianna Mainella.

A scrimmage was hosted this past Saturday at the Buffalo Bills Field House. The girls worked on warm up techniques and drills, focusing on improving important skills.

“It was a great opportunity for me and everyone else there. Working with the coaches was amazing… Just learning from them in general was a great experience for our team. The drills we did taught us how to think under pressure and showed us how it’d be in a real game. It also helped us with teamwork and communication and just learning our strengths and weaknesses. It was great overall,” says team member sophomore Janai Jackson. 

The future’s looking bright. Due to the turn out, Weiss predicts that a full-fledged season could take off as early as next year. It’s hopeful that underclassmen will continue to play as their senior teammates graduate. For now, there are 12 teams in Section 6. As interest grows around the section and state, more schools will join the program.

“Make sure everybody knows that I’m excited, and that the girls are excited,” says Weiss. “To me, it’s definitely a unique situation here. One of the things that was really appealing to me about the whole thing was that I feel like we’re making history here. There’s so many girls here that haven’t had an opportunity to play organized football anywhere until this moment with this team. I don’t think you can overstate how important it is. I know it means a lot to the girls on this team, and it means a lot to the girls who even aren’t on the team”

The girls’ first game is Saturday, April 30th at the OP Turf against Frontier. You don’t want to miss it!