BATAVIA — There are at least six Batavia High School student-athletes interested in flag football, but they’ll need to find more to have a team when the season starts in March.
Athletic Director Mike Bromley and six athletes interested in playing the sport — Aleeza Idrees, Bella Moore, Sydney Konieczny, Abby Moore, Cesia Isamay Murillo Rios, Melanie Quinones Santiago — attended this week’s Board of Education meeting.
“If it’s going to start in March, we’re going to want to have this decided on in January. You don’t want to wait until February for this,” said board President John Marucci at Monday’s session. “In my eyes … get your signup list going and see what the potential (number) of female athletes (is) who want to do this. If we can get a large enough number, ladies, that’s where you come in, let’s get this going. It’s up to you to talk to your friends and say ‘Hey, come sign up. Let’s make this work.’”
Senior Abby Moore said she has talked to a lot of girls about flag football.
“They were all very excited about the idea, I think. Flag football is a new opportunity for a lot of new athletes in the spring to come together and play a new game,” said Moore.
If there’s a flag football team, it would use Van Detta Stadium as its home field, Bromley said.
Flag football is set up as a seven-on-seven lineup on a regular field, using a minimum of 40 yards. The district would have to buy certified flag belts for all the players and teams would use a youth-size football. Each game lasts 48 minutes, with two 24-minute halves and a five-minute halftime break. According to the Section V website, a team scores a touchdown when a forward pass is completed or a fumble or backward pass is caught behind the opponent’s goal line or when a player is legally in possession of the ball and penetrates the vertical plane of the opponent’s goal line. For extra points, teams can earn a point by scoring from the three-yard line, two points from the 10-yard line and three points from the 20-yard line.
“I had 10 girls come to me from grades nine through 12 and say that they are interested in this,” Bromley said of flag football.
Bromley estimated a team would need 12 to 15 players, maybe more. He said he doesn’t think the district would have a problem with that number.
“How can it work in Batavia? Obviously, there’s always concerns when you add a sport. What does it do to the sports that you have?” said Bromley. “That’s always a consideration when you add something, how that affects them. I would have said, probably two years ago, I would be less positive about this working. Now, there’s a thing called dual-sport athletes. What does dual participation mean? It means they pick a primary sport and they can’t miss that sport. The other one becomes a secondary sport for them.”
What Batavia might be able to do, according to Bromley, is have late flag football practices on the turf.
“When you finished your other practice, we’d be able to do that (have flag football practice). We don’t play a lot of softball on Saturdays and track and field, we do have some invitationals, try and work around them,” he said. “What they would do is maybe two or three practices a week instead of the five or six that people normally do. They play, probably, eight games and then I’m not sure what it would look like around sectional time.”
The total cost for flag football might be $9,391, Bromley told the board. The total estimates he gave this week include $4,375 for a head coach and assistant coach, $1,800 for 30 uniforms, $1,200 for three officials a game for four home games, $1,200 for transportation for four away games, $720 for two chaperones and one clock/video board operator.
The students at Monday’s meeting said they would ask to be dual-sport athletes. Their main sport would be track, they said.
Bromley said most of the players on flag football would probably be dual-sport, but added, “The idea, when you start something new, is you want to pick up additional people not currently involved in a sport.”
Currently, Batavia has 28 sports, Bromley said — fourteen male sports, 13 female and one, bowling, for both males and females. Currently Batavia offers three levels of softball and three levels of track and field in the spring for female student-athletes.
Eight schools had flag football teams last year in the first season of NYSPHSAA-sanctioned flag football, including three teams from the same league as Batavia — Eastridge, Irondequoit and Spencerport. Another 22 schools have said they would like to try flag football in the future.
Board member Alice Ann Benedict asked how the eight teams did.
“What they did is they ended up playing a Section V schedule. They just played four or five games and … one against Section VI,” responded Bromley. “The Buffalo Bills were involved with it too. There was actually some money from the Buffalo Bills to start this. That money’s not there this year.”
Bromley said it’s going to take a person that knows a little bit about football to coach flag football.
“That would be something we would have to look for — a person that would like to coach,” Bromley said. “In some districts, that has meant the head football coach. They’ve gone ahead and coached in the spring. I’m not sure what that looks like for our district, but I know there are some people who would be interested in coaching.”