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Girls High School Flag Football

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Browns host first Girls High School Flag 'A New Era Summit' presented by Gatorade

Browns continue their commitment to growing Girls High School Flag Football in Ohio

Girls Flag Summit Article 3.26

As Browns Youth Football Manager Hannah Lee held a football on stage, she showed the room the signatures of all the athletes of the nine teams in the second season of Girls High School Flag.

Now, two years later, they have outgrown that small football.

The Browns hosted the Girls High School Flag Football 'A New Era Summit' presented by Gatorade with over 350 athletes and 40 coaches at Cleveland Browns Stadium with the purpose of connecting young female athletes with potential career opportunities in sports.

There were two panel discussions centered around opportunities and careers across football, each moderated by Fox 8 News journalist Stacey Frey. The attendees heard from Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook, assistant wide receivers coach Callie Brownson, Senior Manager of Football Development at the National Football League Jordan Maban, Browns Assistant Athletic Trainer Maikee Migallos and Vice President of Community Relations of Haslam Sports Group Jenner Tekancic during the first panel.

They each shared their personal journeys of how they reached the current stage of their careers, showcasing the different paths that people can take in the sports industry. Brownson shared a message with the attendees about continuing their journey in sports and remembering that it starts with passion. The panel also took questions from the attendees in the second panel discussion.

"It starts with a why," Brownson said. "It starts with I want to do that with my life and with my career. You're gonna run into a lot of roadblocks. We all have. We all continue to. And all I would say is remember your why. Remember why this is what you want to do. Remember why you're passionate. You're here because you're passionate about the game of football. If you want to get into a career, just remember your why because that's what will drive you through those obstacles. That's going to help you continue to grow in that career and continue to push through the hard days and the bad days. So that's my biggest thing is understanding your purpose, your drive and your passion for wanting to get into the field in the first place."

The attendees then went through different activity sessions focused on different departments such as scouting, football operations, player engagement, community relations, equipment, nutrition, social media, ticket sales, corporate partnerships, scoreboard and fan experience. Browns' staff members ran the stations for the girls where they highlighted their roles in respective departments.

The 2024 Girls High School Flag Football 'A New Era Summit', Presented by Gatorade at Cleveland Browns Stadium on March 21, 2024

At the event, teams that joined the High School Girls Flag Football League in spring of 2024 also received their new jerseys. In the Browns' home locker room, the jerseys were displayed in the lockers for each new team. Then, each team had the chance for a photoshoot in their uniforms.

"It gives me big vibes of women empowerment," Jordan Pickens, coach for the Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School team, said of the summit.

The Browns Girls High School Flag Football programming, presented by Gatorade and in partnership with Bridgestone, aims to provide access and opportunities for high school female student-athletes to compete in and experience flag football. They provide resources and information to players, coaches and parents to expand their knowledge of the game, as well as opportunities through the Browns, USA Football, NFL FLAG and the NFL.

"I take pride in coaching my girls up in everyday confidence – feel good, look good, do good throughout their every day. With being at (Villa Angela-St. Joseph), we have elevated grading scale," Pickens said. "So, with that, I push my girls to be first great in the classroom to then be great on the field. And we also actually push into the community as service hours, especially with the autism community, to spread football throughout them as well."

Pickens has been the equipment manager for the boys high school football team at Villa Angela-St Joseph and said both the assistant athletic director and the quarterback coach approached her about the opportunity to start a girls flag football team. She has now been the coach for their flag football team for two years. The first season, she had 10 girls. This year, they've grown to 18.

"Just to see the girls grow on and off the field and in other sports, it warms my heart," Pickens said.

The Browns launched the Girls High School Flag Football program in 2021 in partnership Northeast Ohio Flag Football. Since then, they have created the first Girls High School Flag Football division in Ohio, with their efforts focused on elevating girls flag football to promote equality in sports offered at the high school level. They began the programming with two schools – Lake Catholic and Mentor. They currently have 41 schools in the program for the 2024 season, which is set to begin March 29 and will continue through the month of April.

The Browns are also working to create a pathway for Girls High School Flag Football to become a sanctioned varsity sport under the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).

"This is something that we are completely committed to from the Cleveland Browns organization," Tekancic said. "There are nine states throughout the nation that have it as a sanctioned sport. And we are one of those introductory states, if you will, that is trying to build the base and the foundation so that it can be a sanctioned sport.

"What we need to do is we need to get it down into Columbus and we need growth in Cincinnati," Tekancic continued. "So, we have to go across the state and show that the high schools are all participating. We really think that we can do that. We imagine the numbers are going to double again next year because when we put this in front of schools for individuals and athletes to sign up, everyone is doing it. Everyone wants to be part of the game. They see the movement. They see the momentum. They see the opportunity that it provides. So, we do see this becoming a sanctioned sport."