KALISPELL — Three Montana high schools have begun pilot programs for girls flag football this year and they gathered at Legends Stadium last Thursday to battle it out and head to Seattle as their sponsor, the Atlanta Falcons, play the Seattle Seahawks.
"One of my favorite parts about this program is just seeing the girls have so much fun," said Atlanta Falcons Director of Community Relations Amanda Dinkel. "It is intense, it is passionate, I think a lot of people are surprised by how much girls love to play flag football. They love being out here on this field and that’s incredibly exciting for us."
Excitement that couldn’t be possible without the support of the Falcons.
"We know that high schools have limited resources and funding so that’s where we come into play of really trying to be that catalyst to help them focus on getting a team out here with the girls and the coaches and the refs," said Dinkel. "We want to provide the resources and so that’s where we’ve come into play to help them, so huge shoutout to these three teams who have gotten it started and hopefully there’s more to come from here."
And with the girls loving it so far, it’s no doubt a sign of more in store.
"It’s been really great," said Glacier High School quarterback Kai Johnson. "The community with the team is like the best I think out of any sport that I’ve played and I feel really connected with all of my teammates and I’ve just had a blast the entire time."
And the teamwork couldn’t be more crucial.
"It’s like more of a team aspect cause you all have to like do your job in order to like carry the entire team," said Johnson with a smile.
Johnson isn’t the only one who has seen the effects of the team culture as her teammate Noah Fincher couldn’t agree more.
"All of us as a team we weren’t really friends that close, but practice really brought us together and we’re all like a different kind of connected if you know what I mean," said Glacier High School wide receiver Noah Fincher. "We all know each other a lot better now and are just a good group of friends."
And that friendship has been the product of the culture built by glacier coach Mark Kessler.
"Since we’ve gotten closer we always just lift each other up," said Fincher. "Kess always told us to lift each other up and never bring each other down which we always accomplish in the end so I love that about everyone."