CIF Approves Girls’ Flag Football

Maya Berger, Staff Writer

The UHS Girls’ Flag Football team has been exceedingly successful these past two years. In 2021, the UHS team won the first championship of the Matt Leinart High School Girls’ Flag Football League. Simultaneously, the team had been battling for statewide recognition of the sport.

California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) approved girls’ flag football to become an official sport in California high schools on Feb. 4. This decision not only set the precedent for the future of athletics in California, but it also allows female athletes to compete in a sport they were not previously able to compete in within their school districts. 

“Now that flag football is a CIF sport it allows . . . us to officially be a UNI officiated team and gain benefits like being able to be publicized to get more fans [from] the school, use the stadium, and get school credit, which will hopefully get more girls wanting to join the team,” junior Riley Hertstein said. 

In previous years, the UHS team traveled to Orange County Great Park for every match with little support from the school’s student section. Since CIF’s approval of the sport, the UHS team is hoping to receive more support on and off the field. 

“I think our main goal is to leave a legacy of [a] genuine love for the sport,” junior Julia Shabanie said. “With that, I think the rest comes naturally. We just want to create an environment within the program that makes this sport as enjoyable for others as it has been for [current members].” 

Playing together and facing adversity has allowed the girls to bond on such a level that most team members consider each other family.

With the upcoming season fast approaching, the UHS Girls’ Flag Football team is eager to rebuild the team with new contributions to the program. 

“Our program is super excited about the overall involvement and recognition from other students and girls, especially now that we’ve been approved we’ll be able to play home games all the time and truly feel more tied to the school as a true CIF sport!” sophomore Carmen Cruz said. 

The team is optimistic that by being recognized with the other school-officiated sports, it will gain a large following among the UHS community. 

Before 2023, the girls’ flag football team was one of two IUSD schools participating in the league. Now that CIF has approved the sport, more IUSD schools are creating programs. 

“We get to play newly formed teams like Portola, Northwood, and Irvine, which makes me happy that more girls are interested and getting involved in the sport,” Hertstein said. 

As the program continues to expand and improve, the UHS team hopes to win the first CIF league title.