Flag Football Growth in Long Beach | Herald Community Newspapers
One of the burgeoning varsity sports on Long Island is girls’ flag football.
This year, in its second season, will see a title game between Long Island and Westchester and a state championship in 2024. One of the programs taking the lead is Long Beach High School, coached by Rocky Butler.
“I think we have a great group of girls who are trying as hard as they can and focusing as much as they can,” Butler said. “You’re learning a brand new sport. They are super excited and super passionate about it.”
The Marines have 40 girls on their roster, which can be difficult in 7-a-side football, but that just goes to show how much interest there is in the program.
“We’re still trying to build out the program as much as we can so we can keep rocking and rolling later,” Butler said. “I think next year we’re going to have a JV team that’s going to involve even more girls, that’s going to be great.”
This spring’s roster boasts a wealth of talent that includes starting quarterback Brooke Nielsen, returning starters Jocelyn Bravo and Stefania Robinson, and standouts Fabiana Boncina, Emma Larson, Zoe Conway and Caitlin Reyes.
“We have a few girls who all have their own specialties,” said Butler, who is assisted by Lori DeVivio. “I’m happy with what we’ve achieved in terms of the quality of the girls in our squad.”
The team is led by defensive tackles Riley Roberts and Isabella Silvestri, who has actually been a major advocate for bringing girls’ flag football to Long Beach.
“[Silvestri] was the one who kind of started this whole thing. She did such a good job that New York Jets representatives picked one person from each program and ended up winning tickets to the Super Bowl last year, which was pretty awesome,” Butler said.
The sport is thriving so much that some Long Island girls are even being offered scholarships to play flag football at the NCAA level.
Long Beach is currently 5-5 up and down after a couple of weeks, but the playoffs are still in play.
“We need to win at least two of those last three games to get into the playoffs,” Butler said. “We need to see what the other schools are doing. There’s always a chance, if we lose two games we still have a chance to get in.”
The hope is always to make the playoffs and race for the championship, but Butler wants to make sure the girls take it game after game.
“The game ahead, that’s what we’re concentrating on. We’re just trying to focus on that one game at a time and see if we can pull off something pretty good,” he said.
This week, Long Beach faces Lynbrook and East Rockaway in their playoff fight.