The upstart Newsome High School girls flag football program was one of four teams chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation to participate in an exhibition showcase at the NFL Super Bowl Experience in Julian B. Lane Park on the week of Super Bowl LV.
“Playing in the NFL fan experience was an absolute thrill,” said junior quarterback Devyn Silvestri. “This event was a fantastic way to showcase not only our Newsome flag program, but also show NFL football fans what girls flag football is really about. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is something I will always treasure, and I’m so grateful we were able to participate and play in front of the Tampa community.”
The Wolves received $100,000 worth of new equipment from Nike and the NFL as a part of the $5 million grant that will go towards girls flag football programs throughout the country. Nike equipped them with new uniforms, cleats, sports bras, compression shorts and headbands.
According to Nike, one million more boys play high school sports than girls do. This campaign hopes to make girls flag football a varsity sport and spread it throughout the country, as it is one of the fastest growing female sports. Currently, only six states have girls flag football programs at the high school level, including Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and New York.
“I will remember the excitement our team had being a part of such a big event and day, as it was National Girls and Women in Sports Day,” said senior captain Kate Ugo. “I will also remember the moment I was standing with my teammates and a young girl asked to take a picture with us. Inspiring her was the highlight of the evening.”
Newsome High School, Robinson High School, Alonso High School and Lennard High School’s flag football programs all participated in the event. The Wolves took on the Robinson Knights, which won its fourth straight flag football title last season and its fifth in six years. The Wolves came up a little short against the Knights, but they will always remember the opportunity to compete in front of an electric crowd.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Newsome Head Coach Justin Shive. “There were a lot of people that came to watch, people that have probably never watched flag football before, and the girls put on a show.”
The Wolves are especially hungry for their first district title since 2011, and a run at a state title, because their last season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We are especially thankful to Nike for sponsoring us with new gear for the upcoming season,” said Ugo. “We are very humbled to have been chosen as one of the four teams to compete at the NFL experience. Being a senior, it was extra special to me, I will have these memories for a lifetime. This season, we plan to take all that anticipation and energy from last season and lay it all on the playing field.”