KALISPELL — As fall sports have begun, this year holds one more than usual as Flathead High School is one of three Montana schools to have a pilot year for girls flag football.
"I love it, it’s so much fun," said senior team captain Akilah Kubi with a big smile on her face.
A sentiment shared by not only senior three-sport-athlete Kubi, but her 21 teammates as well.
"Well football is just like such a masculine sport, so it’s really fun to see a whole bunch of girls go on the field and like go at it," said Kubi.
Kubi has not just embraced the sport, but the community its created.
"This has been cool because we all started learning together because none of us have ever played flag football like this before, so we’re all kind of growing as a team," stated Kubi.
Fellow teammate and captain Peyton Walker has loved everything about football since open gyms started in July.
"The biggest one is the energy, because like when we have a girl get a pick-six or we get a touchdown, you know the coolest part is running up to them and congratulating them," said Walker.
The significance of what the game will mean for future generations isn't lost on the trailblazers.
"Well I think it’s great because I think you know after this first year it’ll take off," said Walker. "It’s always tough the first year because people are always scared of trying something new like this but I think by us helping to lead the way that’s just gonna make it that much easier."
Head coach Lisa Koehler has never coached flag football before, but has loved every second of it.
"It is awesome. It’s awesome to see girls come out her and try something new and step out of their comfort zones," said Koehler. "Especially in high school, I mean it’s hard to try something new and be at that age and they’ve all been super supportive and collaborative and I couldn’t be more blessed."
And when it comes to expectations for where this will lead, Koehler shared her thoughts.
"For this to grow and for it to be taken seriously and for, you know, female athletes to be looked at as athletes and not girls on the field, but athletes," said Koehler. "And we got quite a few athletes that you’re going to see play so that’s awesome to be a part of that and to encourage them to keep doing something they’ve never done before."