Girls on the gridiron


Johnston High hosted the Jennifer Welter All Girls Football Camp this past weekend at the school’s field, teaching the game to local girl athletes looking to get into the sport.
The clinic hosted over 100 players that made the trip from surrounding communities and braved the weather for an afternoon of work.
Welter is a former player and was the first woman to ever secure a coaching job in the NFL when she joined the Arizona Cardinals as a coaching assistant in 2015. Along with Welter, local high school coaches also lent a hand as well as former New England Patriots running back Patrick Pass and current quarterback Nathan Rourke.
Johnston High School assistant football coach Randy Phillips was key in bringing Welter and her camp to the town and hoped that the girls were inspired by her teachings both on and off the field.
“She brought a lot of self confidence, a lot of motivation and an ‘I can do this’ mentality. It was good for our girls to see someone like her, a woman of power, that has broken down barriers. Hopefully that will give the girls in our communities that self confidence,” Phillips said.
Phillips is also coaching a newly-formed all girls flag football team at the high school, which was the first such team that was assembled in Rhode Island. With 30 girls on the roster that have been practicing together since March, Phillips and company hope that it will help eventually establish girls flag football as a varsity sport in the state through the Rhode Island Interscholastic League
Several other schools have followed suit and Johnston will be holding a groundbreaking tournament on May 11th, and will see teams make the trip from schools like Central Falls and Times2 Academy, among others, to take part in this event. In order for the sport to be added to the RIIL, teams will need to showcase their procedures and systems to prove that there is enough interest to form a division.
Phillips hopes that this newly formed squad will not only give girls a chance to continue their careers past the youth level, but will also provide an opportunity at earning a potential college scholarship. There are currently 26 colleges that offer scholarships for flag football and the number is expected to rise in the coming years.
“The boys have 7 on 7 leagues, a league here, a league there, then they can transition to high school football and get a scholarship. The girls get cut off at the recreational level. That’s why I wanted to bring it to high school,” said Phillips.
The Diamonds on the Gridiron Tournament will be held at Johnston High School on Saturday, May 11th. Kick off is at 1:45 p.m., with all proceeds going toward a women’s charity.


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