Gordon prepares to kickoff flag football season


Submitted Photo

Natalie Gordon calling for the pass in hopes to score a touchdown for her team.

There will be no clashing of helmets, no grown men tossing one another to the ground, and certainly no six-foot-five, three-hundred-pound lineman taking the field. Instead, Natalie Gordon, accompanied by a group of strong courageous young women who are ready to pull some flags and change the future one touchdown at a time.

Currently one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States is girl’s flag football. Something that started off as just a once-a-year game between juniors and seniors, known as Powder Puff, has now turned into an all-year-round competitive club sport. While only six states have sanctioned girls’ high school flag football, Pennsylvania not being one of them, North Penn High School has still decided to welcome girl’s flag football with open arms.

Athena Athletics girls flag football team celebrating their love for the sport with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Eagles training camp.
(Submitted Photo)

One of the girls who helped to kickstart the team was junior Natalie Gordon. Gordon has been playing flag football for Athena Athletics for a few years now and decided this year that it was time to bring the sport that she loves to the school. Although Gordon has a strong passion for the sport, she admits that it wasn’t initially an activity she wanted to try.

“I wasn’t really looking to join flag football until one of my friends joined for fun. Then she asked me to come and try out just for fun and I figured why not,” Gordon admitted.

Gordon also shared that what she came to love about girl’s flag football was how uninformed most people are on the sport. What makes it so special is that she gets to be a part of teaching other people about it.

“Something that I really like about the flag football community is the unfamiliarity people have. It’s so new to the country, and more specifically the state. This is why it is becoming so popular,” Gordon explained.

While many people may think that flag football hasn’t evolved too much yet, Gordon and her team have proved otherwise. During all of the time she has spent so far with Athena Athletics, Gordon has had some incredible experiences that many athletes will never get.

“With my club, I have had some of the most exciting experiences of my life,” Gordon said ecstatically. “We have traveled all over the country, including to Las Vegas for Nationals. One of my favorite places we have been was the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando Florida. We have also developed a close relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles who have given us some really cool opportunities like getting to walk on the field, go to games for free, and be on TV as their intro before games”.

With all of the unique experiences Gordon has had, it is no wonder why she wanted to share the sport with girls at North Penn. Another big motivator for her was to help in the fight toward sanctioning girl’s flag football in Pennsylvania.

“I wanted to expand the idea that flag football is a real sport. If colleges have it, then high schools should too,” Gordon explained.

Going in with the proposal for a girl’s flag football team, Gordon was confident that between the growing popularity of the sport and her reasons as to why it should be recognized as a sport at North Penn, it would be hard for the idea to be turned down. And she was right. The school was quick to accept the idea and put it into action. It was also easy to turn her idea into a reality with a bit of help from the Eagles.

“With the help from some girls on my club team, the idea was not hard to persuade. Of course, the opportunity to have such a strong relationship with the Eagles helped as well. The Eagles made websites and consistently advertised for girl’s flag football teams, including ours. With the help from them we were able to cover the costs of flags, footballs, and uniforms,” Gordon shared.

This year, North Penn’s girl’s team will face a variety of different opponents including Gwynedd Mercy, Lansdale Catholic, William Tennet, Arch Bishop Wood, Wissahickon, and Abington. There will also be a “jamboree” held on March 18th at the Nova Care Center, where all the high school flag football teams in the area will be meeting to receive their uniforms and get the opportunity to meet other girls who share the same passion for the sport.

With this being the first season for girls’ flag football at North Penn, Gordon is very excited, and of course nervous too, to see how the sport fares at a school like North Penn.

“I am very excited to see how North Penn reacts to the idea of girl’s flag football. I am really nervous too, but am hoping to receive all the support we can get! I also can’t wait to play competitively against girls from my club team. It will definitely be fun, but different,” Gordon shared.

As flag football continues to spread across the country, girls everywhere are being inspired every day by the sport and all it has to offer. Gordon herself has found a deep love for the sport. It brings her a kind of joy that she can’t seem to find anywhere other than on the football field.

“Flag football is so important to me because it made me because of the impact it had on my athletics and other girls playing the sport. It made me realize just how much a sport with this kind of empowerment can really help girls like me stay motivated. It has allowed me to develop relationships with people I never would have otherwise. Especially with club, meeting girls from other states who enjoy being on the field as much as you do, it just never fails to put a smile on my face,” Gordon expressed.

Gordon admits that she believes part of the reason why she and the other girls feel this sense of joy from the sport, is because of the feeling of empowerment it gives them. By playing a sport that is known as a “male sport” it can be difficult to gain any type of authority as a female. But by going against the traditional stereotypes held to the sport, Gordon has found more confidence within herself.

“I think flag football has empowered female athletes by giving them the confidence to do things that are labeled as ‘not for them’. For the longest time, football was generalized as ‘just for guys’ and if a girl ever tried to join a football team there was always a problem, whether that be not enough playing time, or just not being treated fairly. With flag football being specified for girls, it gives more girls the opportunity to play a sport they were once afraid to and allows them to feel like they belong,” Gordon stated.

Gordon and her team celebrating a touchdown that will advance them to Nationals.

With the start of the girl’s flag football team, Gordon’s new mission is to inspire as many young girls as she can to try flag football. She feels that in order to get more girls to join in, it is important for her to help them overcome the fears that are holding them back.

“For any girl that is considering joining the team but is afraid, I just want you to know that we were all in that position once. Instead of feeling ashamed, just know that you would be helping make history,” Gordon shared.

Gordon hopes that by helping to spread girl’s flag football as well as normalize it, she can inspire future generations to keep playing and making changes for a better tomorrow.

“The sport is still new and by new players joining the team, they are spreading the love for the sport and increasing the flag football population. Just a little support by participating in a fun high school league can make a huge difference today and for the future,” Gordon concluded.