Whitties hit hard, play harder in flag football

Kyle Howe

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Every fall, Whitties don mouth guards, strap flags to their waists, put on their cleats and head out to play one of the most popular IM sports offered at Whitman: flag football.

This year there are 15 total teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions, with six men’s teams and nine women’s teams. Teams come from all across campus, from the Greek systems to first-years, as well as upperclassmen with a love for the game. The season has just begun; with only a few games completed, anything is possible for the competing teams.

Teams of all experience levels play either for fun or for the cultivated blue “Champions” shirt.

“Some teams are in it just to learn a new sport, and they often have the greatest attitudes. For those girls, it’s a chance to become part of a team and even discover athletic abilities they didn’t know they had,” said sophomore Molly Emmett, who plays for the Kappa Alpha Theta team.

The atmosphere of the game depends upon each individual playing, as some people and teams can be very competitive, while others just want to get outside and have fun with their friends.

“The atmosphere of flag football varies from team to team. There are some teams out to have a good time, while others are very focused on their assignments and end goals,” said sophomore Ward Hoskins, a player for the Phi Delta Theta fraternity team and coach of the Switchblades, one of the women’s teams.

Flag football attracts a variety of players who come together in the fall for fun and for glory.

“I really like that flag football gives students, especially female students, a chance to learn about and play one of our country’s most popular sports––a sport that few of us played or even watched before coming to college. I’d played basic football a few times before and watched it on TV sometimes with my family, but until I joined a team at Whitman I had very little knowledge or skill,” said Emmett.

Many flag football teams are well-organized, as most even have a designated coach to lead the team and to help train new players. Most coaches are former high school football players who have brought their passion for the game to Whitman. As coaches, they can try out strategies that they never could, as well as help their friends.

“Flag football is fun. For me as a coach, I love how creative I can be with plays. We only have seven girls out there at a time, and as a coach you really need to figure out the absolute best way to get the most out of each player, oftentimes with trick plays or funny formations. I also just love football in general. I think it’s a pure team sport, where no one person can carry a team. To be successful in football at any level, you need a group of individuals that are willing to commit themselves solely to each other, not to their own personal interests. That’s an amazing thing that still inspires me to go out and coach,” said sophomore Sam Fischer, coach of the Kappa Alpha Theta team.

Even the coaches have a great time out on the field, as they enjoy seeing their team and their friends play, win or lose.

Another reason for the popularity of flag football is for former high school football players to get back out on the field and play in a new environment.

“My favorite moment as a coach is seeing my girls really smile [and] laugh, while also taking the game into their own hands and playing at the best of their ability,” said Fischer.

“I play flag football because it is the closest thing Whitman has to real football. I am also a fan of Whitman flag football because it gives a lot of people the opportunity to play football who have never tried it before,” said Hoskins.

Flag football is very popular at Whitman for a variety of reasons, but one of the more noticeable reasons is the fact that there is no football team present on campus. Therefore, flag football comes into play, allowing all students to fill those football needs.

“I think IM flag football is so big on campus because we don’t have a varsity or club team, so it’s the only opportunity students have to participate. Also, football lends itself to big teams, since you have offense and defense, so more people can join, like a whole dorm section. And there’s a wide range of skills necessary for all aspects of the game, so whether you’ve got speed, strength or even a good arm, you can help out,” said Emmett.

Furthermore, flag football is an exciting game to watch and it is easy for friends to watch friends play and cheer them on.

“Flag football gets people on campus excited because it is a contact sport. It is also easy for a group of people to stand behind a big group pushing towards a common goal. It is motivating and exciting,” said Hoskins.

With so many athletic people, and people who just want to get outside and have fun playing football, this is a great experience for all, as you never know what may happen.

“Football tells a great narrative. You gain yards, you lose yards, you constantly struggle, one group pitted against another. Rivalries are there, friendships and team bonding is there. The game is popular in general for the same reason it’s popular here. It engages people at an individual level [so] that it’s fun to play, fun to watch, and tells a great story,” said Fischer.