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County schools will pass on girls flag football

© St. Petersburg Times
published August 25, 2002

High schools interested in competing in the inaugural FHSAA state series have until Friday, but don't expect to see girls flag football at a field near you.

Director of communications Jack Watford said the FHSAA is confident it easily will pass the 48-school mark needed to field a state series and that interest in areas such as Pinellas County, Palm Beach County and Broward County is extremely high.

Not so for the schools in Citrus County, which have no plans to enter the state championship series or even field teams.

"The only way we would add it is if it was added at the county level," Lecanto activities director Dick Slack said.

"There's softball going on at that time, tennis and girls track, which is big at Lecanto," he said. "I don't know if there'd be enough girls to fill a team or not because we've never explored it."

There has been no interest in getting a squad together at Citrus, said activities director Vicki Overman, who's concerned about possible overlap between sports.

"We have a huge number of girls who do weightlifting, and I just don't know where you'd put it," Overman said. "The spring is a busy time."

Girls weightliftng recently gained recognition status and is popular in the county. According to Watford, a calendar has not been officially set, but the proposed winter season for weightlifting would start in mid-January and end in mid-March.

For girls flag football, the first practice would not be until the end of March, and the state tournament would be the same as boys baseball, although there's a proposal that both tourneys be moved a week later.

Watford acknowledged that it might be hard for some small schools to field girls football teams, especially in the first year.

"I think for a 1A or 2A size school that's trying to fill a softball team and girls track team, the fear probably is if we start this sport, what's going to happen? Are we going to get girls out who aren't playing a sport or is the worst possible thing going to happen, that we have migrating from sports we already have.

"Those are the kinds of things they have to weigh as a school. But when you get up to schools that have 800, 900, 1,000 kids and half of them are girls, I don't think that's as big as a issue," Watford said.

The FHSAA frequently will be updating the list of schools on its website that have accepted invitations to play.

At least 48 have to commit, and at least 12 of those have to be in a different section. As of Aug. 23, only 19 schools were listed, but Watford said about 10 more responses were received Aug. 24.

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