Girls Flag Football To Debut As IHSA Sport In Fall Of 2024


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Girls Flag Football To Debut As IHSA Sport In Fall Of 2024

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Photos courtesy of Jon Pearson/Chicago Bears and CPL Athletics

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce that Girls Flag Football will be the latest sport to debut an IHSA State Series, as the IHSA will conduct its inaugural postseason, culminating with an IHSA Girls Flag Football State Champion being crowned, in the fall of 2024.

“The addition of Girls Flag Football furthers the IHSA mission of creating participation opportunities for high school students in Illinois,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The sport has experienced significant growth in a short amount of time, and our member schools are excited to see it become an IHSA sport. The Chicago Public Schools Athletic Administration and the Chicago Bears both deserve significant praise for their grassroots efforts in shepherding and supporting the growth of girls flag football in Illinois.”

The IHSA Board of Directors approved the Girls Flag Football State Series during their regularly scheduled meeting on February 5, 2024. The IHSA will offer a State Series in 40 total sports and activities in 2024-25, in addition to its Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, Unified games via its partnership with Special Olympics, and Athletes with Disabilities divisions in multiple sports.

“It is important for the IHSA to continue to adapt to the interests of our students and schools,” said Dan Tully, the Principal at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles and President of the IHSA Board of Directors. “Girls Flag Football is somewhat unprecedented in terms of its growth and timeline for achieving an IHSA State Series. We are enthusiastic about how much has been accomplished in such a short amount of time, and expect that participation will continue to increase in the years ahead.”

Girls Flag Football joins a growing list of sports and activities that have recently conducted their inaugural IHSA State Series, including Girls Wrestling (2022), Esports (2022), Boys and Girls Lacrosse (2018), and Competitive Dance (2013). 

The IHSA has commitments from over 100 schools to participate in the inaugural State Series in 2024, while nearly 40 other schools have expressed that they anticipate fielding a team in 2025. 

"The Chicago Public League (CPL) is thrilled that High School Girls Flag Football is now an IHSA-sanctioned sport." said David Rosengard, Executive Director of Sports Administration at Chicago Public Schools." It is amazing to see the rapid growth of the sport across the state, as what started as an inaugural league in partnership with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Bears has now expanded to over 100 participating teams and IHSA sanctioning. We cannot thank the Bears, IHSA and our CPL leagues enough for what they have done to pioneer this sport in the city and state."

The CPL conducted a postseason tourney in 2021, which was won by Back of the Yards High School. The CPL and Chicago Bears then joined together to host a state championship event at Halas Hall in 2022 and 2023, with Willowbrook High School and Lane Tech High School winning state championships, respectively. 

“The official sanctioning of girls’ flag football in the State of Illinois is exciting news. Next year, we will witness a state championship in the sport. By providing opportunities for talented girls and women, we will be able to follow some of the world’s best athletes competing on local, national and international platforms, leading to the 2028 Summer Olympics,” said Chicago Bears President & CEO Kevin Warren. “The Chicago Bears remain committed to aggressively championing the growth of girls’ flag football.  This is the beginning, but access and equity begin with these historical first moments that make the Chicago Bears, and me personally, inspired for the future of girls’ flag football for generations to come."

The IHSA Girls Flag Football Advisory Committee has met twice previously and will look to finalize the rulebook and structure of the State Series at upcoming meetings. The IHSA will also create a Request For Proposals in order to find sites interested in hosting the State Finals at an upcoming Board meeting.

“There is a lot of work to done before we crown the first IHSA Girls Flag Football State Champion,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Tracie Henry, who will serve as the IHSA Girls Flag Football administrator.  “We have a group of people who are dedicated to seeing the sport flourish and putting on a first-class state tournament. One area where we know we will need help is with officiating. We hope we can recruit some new officials to the sport, while also having current IHSA officials in other sports, including 11-player and 8-player football, add licenses to referee girls flag football as well.”

Individuals interested in becoming IHSA Girls Flag Football officials can begin licensing on May 1, 2024.

The inaugural IHSA Girls Flag Football State Finals will take place on Friday and Saturday, October 18-19, 2024.

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