Hesston College prepares to launch women’s flag football with grant support

New Lark

The Hesston College athletic department announced today the addition of women’s flag football as a varsity sport at Hesston College, with an official launch for the 2022-23 academic year. A grant of $10,000 has been provided by the NJCAA Foundation, NFL FLAG and RCX Sports to facilitate the launch of the women’s flag football program. Women’s flag football will become the Hesston College athletic department’s 11th varsity program.

“Women’s flag football is a fast-growing sport, and Hesston College is excited to provide opportunities for young women to play flag football at the collegiate level,” said Bryan Kehr, Hesston Athletic Director. “We are grateful for the support of the NJCAA Foundation, NFL FLAG and RCX Sports which helps to make the addition of this sport at Hesston possible.”

For the NJCAA Foundation, NFL FLAG and RCX Sports, fostering collegiate flag football has multiple benefits.

“The NJCAA expanding NFL Flag opportunities for female student athletes at member institutions demonstrates clearly that football is for all,” said Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations Troy Vincent, Sr. “The values, fun and competitive environment of football can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone who wishes to participate. It is exciting to see junior colleges offer NFL FLAG as a varsity sport to female athletes.”

In March, the NJCAA announced the $150,000 grant, provided by the NFL, to support the initiative of expanding women’s flag football. Since then, 11 grants have been awarded to NJCAA member colleges to grow the sport.

“The NJCAA Foundation is passionate about the value women’s flag football brings to institutions’ overall growth, the student-athlete experience, and equality across playing fields,” stated Brian Luckett, NJCAA Foundation Executive Director. “This is an opportunity for women of the association to compete at the highest level and we are fortunate to work hand in hand with NFL FLAG and RCX Sports during this exciting time.”

“As with all Lark athletics programs, it’s not just about what Hesston College can offer student-athletes; it’s also about the ways in which those student-athletes will enrich the college community,” said Joseph A. Manickam, Hesston President. “We are excited to field a team in 2022-23, and even more excited to meet the students that the Larks women’s flag football program will bring to campus.”

Women’s flag football features a schedule primarily played during the spring season. Each team plays with seven players at a time, on a football field 80 yards in length and 40 yards in width. Teams may move offensively by either passing or running the football, while the act of “tackling” is performed by pulling a flag from the belt of the ball carrier.

“RCX is dedicated to creating opportunities for all athletes to play and so that every child can gain important life skills only learned through sports,” said RCX Sports CEO and NFL FLAG Executive Director Izell Reese. “Through NJCAA women’s flag football, young women will not only be able to compete, they’ll earn a valuable education that will set them up for success after college.”

High school athletic associations across the nation have adopted flag football as a sport for women, with the sport showing particularly strong growth over the last five years. Though Hesston has never fielded a football team before, a former Lark made football history in 2017 when Katie Sowers ’06 became the first female and openly LGBT coach in a Super Bowl, as an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Sowers currently works with the Kansas City Chiefs. Her twin sister, Liz Sowers ’06, is the head coach of the NAIA championship-winning women’s flag football team at Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kan.

The search for the program’s first head coach will begin in July 2021. Hesston College will take the 2021-22 school year as an opportunity to build the program and will begin playing a competitive schedule during the 2022-23 school year.

About Hesston College
Located 30 miles north of Wichita, Hesston College is a liberal arts college of Mennonite Church USA.
About NJCAA Foundation
The mission of the NJCAA Foundation is to enhance the NJCAA national organization, student-athletes, member colleges and local communities through financial support, scholarships, program initiatives and community service.
About RCX Sports
RCX Sports is the premier youth-sports experiences business, running and operating leagues, camps, combines, tournaments and events.

RCX works with professional leagues, national governing bodies, sports-centric businesses and brands to reimagine youth sports experiences. RCX produces events with world-class partners including the NFL, Jr. NBA, NAIA, Rivals.com and the 2022 World Games.

RCX is committed to improving the accessibility and inclusivity of sports by enhancing the youth sports experience and creating opportunities for all athletes to play. We believe sports have the power to transform lives and that every athlete should have the opportunity to experience the value of sports. For more information, visit www.rcxsports.com.

NFL FLAG is an NFL-licensed property of more than 1,600 locally operated leagues and over 500,000 youth athletes across all 50 states. NFL FLAG is a fun and accessible non-contact program available for girls and boys ages 5-17. Players benefit by being physically active through non-contact, continuous action while learning the fundamentals of football as well as lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship. RCX Sports is the official operator of NFL FLAG.