In a pioneering move, the enthusiasm for girls’ flag football is gaining momentum in the 209, and Team Stockton Elevate is on a mission to elevate the game to new heights by launching a 7v7 travel ball team.
Anticipating a surge in interest, Ryan Walker, one of the head coaches spearheading the initiative, exclaims, “This thing is going to blow up. I’ve got so many boys and girls who haven’t even left the south side of Stockton, and I think getting out, going somewhere else, and competing is going to help these kids bond.”
Collaborating with Vince Carter, the founder of Team Stockton Elevate, known for providing comprehensive sports training and exposure to recruitment opportunities, the duo organized the inaugural tryouts for a girls’ flag football travel team in Stockton. The event welcomed girls aged 14 and above from various corners of San Joaquin County, with around 30 eager participants showcasing their skills at McNair High School.
Flag football’s popularity is on the rise, evident in the success of teams like the Tokay girls, currently leading the Tri-City Athletic League with a remarkable 9-2 record. George Bozovich, head coach of Tokay girls’ flag football, views such opportunities as crucial for honing skills during the offseason. He emphasizes, “The sport of flag football is growing, and I think having something like this is a great opportunity. This gives them something to do in the offseason to hone their skills. It’s amazing. This is what the girls should be excited about.”
The tryouts drew interest from players like Aria Khan, Tokay’s junior quarterback, currently ranked second in the nation for total passing yards. Khan and her teammates engaged in various position and skill drills, showcasing their abilities for the coaches evaluating their potential.
For Vince Carter and Ryan Walker, who have dedicated almost a decade to creating opportunities for football players in the 209, the decision to initiate girls’ flag football activities came swiftly after the CIF elevated it to high school sport status. Carter reflects on the inspiration behind the endeavor, stating, “We were at a tournament either in Vegas or Arizona, and as we were coming in to compete, we saw girls leaving who just got done competing. We were like, ‘Man, we’re late, it’s something going on that we didn’t see.’ So we just started brainstorming and we put it all together.”
The outreach extended beyond Stockton, encompassing high schools in the area and reaching out to girls interested in playing from the Bay area. Sunday’s tryouts marked the first of two sessions, reflecting their commitment to providing as many girls as possible with an opportunity to join the travel ball team.
Stephanie May, a safety for Bear Creek girls’ flag football, expresses her excitement, saying, “We never really had much in Stockton, so it’s good to give us something to do. Especially for girls, like there’s so much stuff for boys’ sports, and to finally give girls the chance to play 7v7, it’s cool.”
As the girls eagerly await the announcement of the team, May reflects the optimism shared by many, “I’m happy to be here and be with a bunch of other girls for the first 7v7 team in Stockton. I think I’ll make the team. I’m pretty confident, but I’m still humble. I just want to say good luck to everybody that tries out.”