The football mad state of Florida has taken another empowering step forward in providing opportunities for women to grace the gridiron. In years past, the cities of Tampa and Orlando hosted the Women’s World Football Games. As a side note, Orlando’s involvement took place during the same week as the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, which also included the participants attending the Careers in Football forum.
Following in those landmark events, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins joined forces with sponsor Nike, hosting a Girls Flag Football Jamboree. Held at Nova Southeastern University, it was actually a preseason jamboree, allowing girls of various skill levels, attending schools from the Broward County Athletic Association, to test their skills.
With an astounding total of 27 flag football teams on-hand, such participation is testament to the desire to participate, staking a claim of equality in the game. Adding a major league feeling to the proceedings was the involvement of Broward County Athletic Director Rocky Gillis, plus Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, proudly showing their support for this growing movement in sport, while helping to unify the community in a positive way.
Video footage of the Jamboree was broadcast on “Good Morning Football”, one of the NFL Network’s flagship programs. Taking into account that the famed franchise also has a “Junior Dolphins” program, emphasizing a healthier life through sport, while developing character and teamwork skills, the Jamboree is definitely an emotional extension of such revered values.
Certainly, the Jamboree is also an extension of the incredible impact that women have made in Southern Florida football, setting a crucial foundation for the game’s growth. Early in the Millennium, one of the most popular players of female football was quarterback Anita Marks, whose image graced magazines such as Muscle and Fitness and Playboy. Starring for the Miami Fury, her gridiron odyssey would culminate with a WPFL championship as the Florida Stingrays signal caller. Notably, she also her own NFL connection, having worked on the New York Giants broadcast team.
South Plantation High School is also intertwined with female football history, as Erin DiMeglio became the first girl in the state to play at the quarterback position. Handing off the ball to Keon Knight in a 2012 preseason contest, the prestigious New York Times chronicled it. Five years later, another female quarterback made national news, as Holly Neher of North Hollywood Hills (also based in Southern Florida) threw a 42-yard touchdown toss in a September 1 loss to Hallandale High School.
While it would be unique if the near future saw women’s collegiate flag football games televised nationally on a weekly basis, the involvement of the Dolphins and Nike exemplified a very strong feeling of both acceptance and relevance. With participants also receiving a drawstring bag featuring the Dolphins and Nike logos, there was also the added gift of Nike swag on the interior, providing a treasured keepsake, while possibly providing inspiration for these girls to achieve greater heights on the gridiron.