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Eastchester Flag Football Blazes New Path for Girls Sports

The girls flag football team practices on March 16.As athletic teams around New York State officially kicked off the spring season last week, a group of Eastchester High School students were making history. For the first time ever, Eastchester will field a girls flag football team, making the district part of an exclusive group that is forging a new path for girls’ sports. 


Girls flag football made its debut in New York State last spring as part of a pilot program that was funded through a partnership between the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) and the National Football League. The sport’s inaugural campaign saw a total of 41 schools across the state—nine within Section 1—launch programs. That number has only grown, as Eastchester will join 16 other Section 1 varsity squads on the field this year. 


Senior Sofia Kolndreu, one of the students who was instrumental in getting the program off the ground, said finally being on the field with her teammates was thrilling, something Eastchester student-athletes have been looking forward to since the sport was officially approved for competition during the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 10.


“There was a lot of anticipation, a lot of work went on behind the scenes to make this possible,” said Kolndreu. “We’ve been having open turfs, we’ve been getting ready for this and it’s amazing to actually be doing this.”


Vito DeBellis—who was tapped to coach the team this spring—raved about the girls' enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Although launching a new program can often be an uphill battle, the flag football team has had no problem generating interest, with over 25 players turning out for the spring season. 


“It’s really been amazing, you can just sense the energy that these girls have,” said DeBellis. “Obviously, there’s a lot of teaching that goes into it, because most of these girls have never played the game before, but it seems like they’re already picking up on things,”


Kayla Comizio, a junior, noted that while the learning curve has been steep over the first few days of practice, she can see the commitment of her teammates on full display as they work together to tackle this new challenge.


“Right before we came out, we were going over plays and how we were going to run stuff in the classroom,” said Comizio. “But I have honestly been kind of surprised with how everyone was able to pick it up so quickly because this is a new sport for most of us.”


The girls will play their first official varsity flag football contest on Tuesday, March 28, when they travel to Poughkeepsie to take on the Pioneers. As his charges prepare for that historic game, DeBellis hopes that they will take a moment to reflect on their unique opportunity and everyone who has made this season possible.


“These girls know that this town, this community and this school district are all in for them and they’re really appreciative of what’s going on,” said DeBellis. “I want to see them compete, I want them to feel good about what they’re doing, and I want them to know that mistakes are going to happen and it’s my job as a coach to help them learn.”


To see more photos of the Eastchester Girls Flag Football Team, click HERE.