Flag Football growing in popularity at Olympic Heights


Olympic Heights is well known for its winning traditions and talented student-athletes across many of its sports. One such team is the OH flag football team. This team has had the opportunity to thrive and grow throughout its years at OH as it passes through many generations of talented girls.

The popularity of girls flag football is growing not only as a recreational community sport, but also in high schools across Palm Beach and Broward counties. In fact, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA), now recognizes women’s flag football as a collegiate sport in more than 20 colleges where scholarships are available. Because of this, teams are becoming more competitive to help players explore opportunities to play at the next level.

The growing interest in flag football at OH is evident in the 37 girls who came out to conditioning and tryouts for the 2023 team. “With the number of girls that came out, we were able to explore the possibility of creating a [true] freshman team for the first time in OH history,” shares Head Coach Paul Weland. “This is brand new for OH and opens doors for new opportunities and experiences.

“Freshmen teams are not new; they are just difficult to come by,” adds Weiland. “Any and every school that has enough freshmen will have a freshmen team, giving their girls a big step-up in terms of game experience.”

The OH freshmen girls were able to play in tournaments against other freshman teams from schools such as Pahokee, Boca Raton, Spanish River, Palm Beach Central, Park Vista, Forest Hill, Atlantic and West Boca, all of which had the same opportunity as OH this year to provide the freshman players will valuable game experience they may not get otherwise.

This season’s OH girls flag teams featured a mix of freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have come from other sports such as soccer, cheerleading, and volleyball. OH junior flag football player Talia Halperin shares, “The transition from playing volleyball for seven years to learning a new sport such as flag, on top of keeping up with volleyball, was difficult but something I’ll never forget!” 

Halperin shares that she learned so much from both sports, although they weren’t parallel in any way. The chemistry of the flag team came together despite the players coming from different sports, interests, and backgrounds. 

“The team has a great chemistry,” sophomore player Jayden Adib explained. “Everyone worked hard and had fun while doing it.” Adib went on to express how the team had great energy and a bond no one can teach. 

The OH flag team welcomed new JV Head Coach Jon Hansen to the program for the 2023 season. “The typical division is he is in charge of is the JV team, and I run the Varsity. We both collectively work with the freshman team,” Weiland explains. This arrangement allows time for each team to have personalized attention and focus. Hansen, formerly of West Boca High, brought new ideas to the team to allow them to thrive and be inspired.