Bryn Mawr School junior Anna Morrow started a flag football club at her all-girls school three years ago. On Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, she saw another step forward in growing the sport she loves for girls like her.
The Baltimore Ravens' RISE program hosted Girls Flag Football clinics at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday. The two clinic sessions accommodated more than 250 girls, who worked with a group of USA Football certified master trainers and local area high school coaches to develop their skills.
The Ravens hosted a clinic in December at the Under Armour Performance Center, but this is the first time players have been at M&T Bank Stadium. It was another banner day for Morrow, who has been in touch with the Ravens since her freshman year to expand the sport in Frederick County.
"I have loved football for as long as I can remember and I have been looking for a way that I can involve girls like myself who just love the game," Morrow said. "Just seeing the sport flourish and seeing that you can compete and play this at a competitive, high level, I think that's important in growing this sport and getting more people involved."
Girls flag football will become an official Frederick County Public School (FCPS) sport beginning in the fall with a pilot league, the first step in achieving the long-term goal of sanctioning the sport in the state of Maryland. Ten schools will compete in the eight-week season, which will end with a championship game. The Ravens and Under Armour partnered with FCPS, with the Ravens committing three years of grant funding.
Although Bryn Mawr is a private school and thus not eligible to compete in the pilot league, Morrow is hopeful that seeing teams compete at a high level will show people that flag football is a competitive sport that should be played statewide.
"I've been in touch with schools within our IAM league trying to get this program rolling," she said, highlighting the wider interest the Ravens hope to bolster.
Ravens rookies Tavius Robinson and Trenton Simpson helped in the morning session, throwing footballs while helping run drills and encouraging the players.
"It's huge to grow the big game of football and (to) see women play and want to play at the highest level is great to support," Simpson said.
Marlon Humphrey, Tyus Bowser, and Devin Duvernay helped in the afternoon session. Humphrey was especially passionate about the event, calling plays and actively participating in drill demos. He said much of his enthusiasm stems from the benefits his sister, Breona Humphrey, would have had if flag football was offered when she was in high school.
"She was always very athletic, and this would have been really good for her to do actually," Humphrey said of Breona, who ran track and field at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "As athletic as she was, really fast, it would have been nice to see her put some of that to use other than the track in another sport to enjoy and have a good time."
The girls capped each session with a scrimmage, showing off their refined skills.
"I see a lot of smiles, they're having a good time doing it," Humphrey said.