Calhoun begins first girls’ flag football program in Lowndes County

Published 9:11 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

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Excitement is an understated description of the emotions of athletes at The Calhoun School these days. The reason for the excitement?  Calhoun is launching the first girls’ flag football program  in Lowndes County.

 “We had a meeting Friday, and we had 15 girls who said they wanted to sign-up to play flag football,” said Nickles Rankins, athletic director for Lowndes County Schools. He could barely contain his enthusiasm, “That was wonderful to me,” he said. 

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Girls in grades 9th through 12th are eligible to play. The Calhoun girls’ flag football season will begin during the 2023-2024 school term.

Calhoun is receiving a $5,000.00 grant from Arthur M. Blank Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons. The grant is administered through the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and in 2021, ASHAA announced that girls’ flag football would be a sanctioned sport for Alabama youth at member schools. 

“We will probably have to drive a bit to play other teams because there are no local girl’s flag football teams nearby. I think the nearest team is Francis Marion High School,” Rankins said.

Longtime Calhoun athletics supporter Robert Sellers agrees that because the team will need to cover a lot of distances to play, county-wide financial support will be needed. 

 “We will do a lot of fundraising to minimize costs on the parents for their kids traveling to the games. Being in the black belt, it is kind of rough for some when it comes to finances,” Sellers said.

The Calhoun athletics department has held car washes and picked up roadside trash as fundraisers.

“Our parents and kids work hard on our fundraisers and volunteering. The kids give back to the communities,” Sellers said.

Rankins said Sellers is a constant supporter of athletics programs at Calhoun. Sellers has volunteered with the athletics program for seven years. He also has four children attending schools in the county, and they are all very active in sports.  

Sellers said his daughters are too young to play flag football right now, but they are just as interested in playing as those who are old enough.

“The girls at the school have been asking about flag football for a long time. It just didn’t seem possible because no teams around us had it. So, hopefully we can encourage some local teams to get started. We will just hope for the best and push forward,” he said. 

“Girls’ flag-football will give them more positive athletic things to do. The more time kids spend around adults doing something positive the less time they have to get into trouble,” Sellers added.

Rankins said he is putting the finishing touches on paperwork and looking forward to building a flag football program that the athletes, students and parents can be proud to support.

“Being able to bring flag-football to our kids is a good feeling. I want it to be just like what we did with our track program. We have a good group of kids, and they are eager to learn,” said Rankins.