Larks get grant to add flag football

The Kansan
Hesston College was one of 10 schools in the NJCAA to receive a grant to begin a women’s flag football team. Hesston is one of three Jayhawk Conference schools to receive the grant and will be one of seven schools in the state to offer the sport.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hesston College is one of 10 schools in the National Junior College Athletic Association and one of three in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference to receive a $10,000 grant from the National Football League and RCX Sports to begin a women’s flag football team.

The grant is being distributed by the NJCAA Foundation.

"The NJCAA Foundation is passionate about the value women's flag football brings to institutions' overall growth, the student-athlete experience, and equality across playing fields," Brian Luckett, NJCAA Foundation Executive Director, said. "This is an opportunity for women of the association to compete at the highest level and we are fortunate to work hand in hand with NFL FLAG and RCX Sports during this exciting time."

Joining Hesston from the Jayhawk Conference are Pratt Community College and Fort Scott Community College.

Other schools getting the grant are Kennedy King College in Chicago, Bryant & Stratton College of Wauwatosa, Wis., Florida Gateway College of Lake City, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College of Clifton Forge, Va., Hocking College of Nelsonville, Ohio; and Nassau Community College of Garden City, N.Y.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics began women’s flag football as an emerging sport at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

It is classified as an emerging sport in the NAIA.

Ottawa, Saint Mary and Kansas Wesleyan of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference are competing.

Hesston’s sister school, Bethel College, will begin play in the 2022-23 school year.

Ottawa won the NAIA Invitational title this season.

Ottawa is coached by Liz Sowers, a Hesston College graduate. Her sister, Katie Sowers, also is a HC graduate, who coached with the San Francisco 49ers — reaching the Super Bowl — and is currently on staff with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Both won world women’s tackle football titles with the USA National Team.

"The NJCAA expanding NFL Flag opportunities for female student athletes at member institutions demonstrates clearly that football is for all," Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations Troy Vincent Sr., said. “The values, fun and competitive environment of football can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone who wishes to participate. It is exciting to see junior colleges offer NFL FLAG as a varsity sport to female athletes."

According to Hesston College officials, the team will begin play in the 2022-23 school year, using the upcoming school year to hire  a coach and begin recruting players.

Hesston currently offers six men’s and six women’s sports. The Larks compete in NJCAA Division II in most sports.