West Ranch, Valencia, Hart all set to have inaugural seasons next year
In the spirit of providing as many opportunities as possible, the William S. Hart Union High School District board approved a resolution last week that will see girls’ flag football be adopted as a districtwide sport starting in the 2024-25 school year.
The first three schools to field teams will be West Ranch, Hart and Valencia high schools, and athletic directors for each school were on hand to witness the decision. The girls’ flag football season will take place in the fall.
Grant Livermont, a co-athletic director at West Ranch, said that when the idea was floated to students, he was shocked at how much interest there was.
“It was awesome to see,” Livermont said, adding that over 60 students at West Ranch have shown interest in playing. “Just talking to parents, everybody starts hearing about the rumors, people start coming up, asking, interest is building. I have people meet me at the basketball game asking, ‘Hey, we really got girls’ flag football coming?’ And it’s just, there’s excitement building. I think now that this is getting announced, the excitement’s even going to build more.”
According to Livermont, a full varsity program would need at least 20 to 25 players to allow for quality practices.
Mark Crawford, the district’s director of human resources, delivered the presentation to the governing board, outlining why girls’ flag football is ready to be taken on by these schools. He said that each school has students showing enough interest, the California Interscholastic Federation and its subsidiary, the CIF Southern Section, have both approved the sport and there is support from organizations such as the NFL and its two L.A. franchises, the Los Angeles Chargers and the L.A. Rams.
“At each site, we’ve had 40-plus student-athletes attend their interest clinics for girls’ flag football,” Crawford said.
Crawford added that with permanent lights coming to each of the high school fields — and Valencia and Canyon High School already having lights — there will be little cost to the district to ensure the necessary facilities.
In addition, as is the case with lacrosse programs and the Valencia wrestling program, each team will be entirely financially self-sustaining, Crawford said. He mentioned grants from the Chargers and Rams that, should those be approved, would see every team that approves girls’ flag football receive uniforms.
The estimated cost for each school’s team in the first year would be $21,553, which includes equipment, transportation, uniforms, coaching stipends and officials, among other costs. Crawford added that this estimation is on the higher end and that the second-year costs will hopefully go down as many of the initial purchases will not be needed a second time.
Governing board member Cherise Moore, who represents Trustee Area No. 3, asked if students who want to play but cannot afford to will be able to. Crawford answered by saying that grants and fundraising will help ensure that any student who wants to play will get to play.
“There’s an understanding that all students may not be able to, and families may not be able to donate, but if a student is on the team, they make the team, they go to practices, they get the uniforms, they get travel on the buses, they get everything else that the other students get,” Crawford said.
The district adopting the sport now aligns itself with the CIF planning to implement playoffs starting next year. The Southern Section already has over 100 schools with girls’ flag football teams, according to Crawford, who added that another 40 to 50 schools are looking to start programs next year as well.
The one issue that Crawford brought up is that three schools is not enough to form a league under CIF guidelines. A fourth school would have to adopt a team for the CIF to create a league, and until that happens, the three schools that have already shown interest in having teams would play freelance schedules.
Livermont isn’t worried about that aspect, as he knows of multiple schools that are close enough to make it so that long travel isn’t needed. He also mentioned schools hosting multiple games in one day to alleviate those travel concerns.
“There’s so many teams available to play,” Livermont said. “With jamborees and going around playing multiple schools, us traveling with Valencia or us traveling with Hart to play different schools, there’s an ample amount of teams that we could be playing.”
Oluwadara Falodun, the student board member, asked whether girls from other schools that don’t have flag football yet could join a team at another school. Crawford said that CIF regulations only allow for students to play sports at the schools they attend.
He did not, though, rule out the sport expanding further in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“However, if there are students that are interested,” Crawford said, “go to their athletic director on the campus, go to that assistant principal that’s over athletics, talk to them about how they can get this going.”