Sports Odds & Ends
The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) girls’ first flag football season was a success, say officials and players.
“I feel like any woman could do whatever she wanted to do at a young age,” explained Kendria Coleman, 13, who plays for Olson Middle School. “If you want to do something, you can do it and you have to exercise, and they can’t tell you less.”
Her club won both games in a three-team round-robin tournament last Saturday at the Minnesota Vikings indoor practice facility in Eagan. Olson defeated Andersen 9-0 and Jefferson 12-0. Andersen defeated Jefferson 14-0.
“It was a good day and we’re excited about the turnout,” said Torrance Hill, MPS Middle School’s athletic director, who also served as an on-field official at Saturday’s games. The Vikings’ Girls Flag Football Jamboree was the culmination of a three-week inaugural season this month of games played at Roosevelt and South High School.
Before the competitions, Vikings staff and players spoke to the middle school students. Several Vikings players warmed up with the school players and served as volunteer assistant coaches.
Most of the youth were black. “Our employees care about them, and we stand behind them 100%…to see them grow up and then become future leaders,” said Monterae Carter, Vikings Foundation program manager.
The three Minneapolis middle school teams are laying the groundwork for the future possibility of flag football becoming a sanctioned high school sport in Minnesota, as is currently the case in several other states. The Vikings have committed to funding the sport for three years.
“I said at the end of the presentation and introduction that they are pioneers,” Hill said of the players. “I think they’re starting to realize how important these three teams right here can be as a start for both Minneapolis and the state as a whole.”
Hill reported that the first City Flag football season was marked by confidence, emotion and hard work from the players, many of whom were playing football for the first time.
“I’ve never played football before,” admitted 12-year-old Olson’s Emma Waukazo-Voss. “I didn’t think I would play, but then I started playing and I got better.”
Her teammate Zenayzia Crite added, “It was fun… and we’re undefeated.”
“I think it was really nice to see them come in [the indoor facility]. Her eyes were pretty wide [open] to see how big the rooms were,” Carter said, where they would play. “It makes it so real for them to play on the same field that our players play on.”
Concluding Hill: “I’m glad the kids enjoyed themselves. They showed some competitiveness and some emotions came out, good and bad.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.