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Carolina Panthers grant to fund women's flag football pilot program at 19 WCPSS high schools

Nov. 22, 2023


A $47,500 grant from Carolina Panthers Charities will help launch a pilot program to offer women's flag football at 19 WCPSS high schools.


The Board of Education accepted the grant at its meeting on Tuesday evening.


Tryouts and practices will be held in January. The playing season in this pilot year will consist of three Saturday tournament-style competitions.


“This grant will give hundreds of female students a fun and unique opportunity to reap the many benefits of participating in athletics,” says Deran Coe, WCPSS Director of Athletics. “Athletics promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and physical fitness, all of which can lead to better outcomes for students in high school and beyond. We are grateful to Carolina Panthers Charities for their generosity, and we look forward to partnering with them to encourage students to join the fun of flag football.”


In 2022, the Carolina Panthers partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to launch the state’s first-ever women's high school flag football program. This fall, the Panthers helped launch pilot programs with Cabarrus County Schools and Union County Public Schools.


“The Carolina Panthers are thrilled to partner with the Wake County Public School System in the creation of this pilot Women's High School Flag Football League, which will provide increased participation opportunities and access to the sport of football for female student-athletes in Wake County,” said Panthers director of community relations Riley Fields. “Our hope is the success of the Wake County program will be a catalyst for the continued growth and participation by high schools across our region. We are excited for all the Wake County student-athletes who will have the opportunity to compete for their schools and benefit from the program.”


Grant funding will cover game officials, coaching stipends, field prep, and other game-related expenses.


The Panthers are also providing each participating high school with 25 sets of custom-made Nike uniforms plus practice equipment.


Flag football requires the same speed, strategy, and coordinated teamwork of regular football but in a non-contact format. Its growth and popularity have led flag football to be selected as a sport for the 2028 Olympic games in Los Angeles.


“This marks a significant step forward in promoting gender equality and providing additional opportunities for female athletes to showcase their skills on the field.” says Crystal Massenburg, athletic director of South Garner High School. “Recognizing the growing popularity of flag football and the increasing demand for more inclusive sports offerings, South Garner Athletics is proud to be a part of this initiative, aiming to empower and inspire young women in this community and all across Wake County to embrace the sport.”

Participating High Schools

  • Apex
  • Athens Drive
  • Broughton
  • East Wake
  • Enloe
  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Green Level
  • Heritage
  • Holly Springs
  • Knightdale
  • Middle Creek
  • Millbrook
  • Panther Creek
  • Rolesville
  • Sanderson
  • South Garner
  • Southeast Raleigh
  • Wakefield
  • Willow Spring