NK pioneers new girls sport in Kitsap County

North Kitsap will become the pioneers of Kitsap County in the newest sports wave hitting the state.

Viking assistant football coach Chris Richardson will be fielding an NK girls flag football team this winter.

“I applaud these girls for stepping up and taking on the challenge,” Richardson said. “I’m amazed when I watch our volleyball, softball and girls track teams. So, giving them an opportunity to showcase their abilities in a sport and be pioneers in the county and grow it into a state competition would be great.”

Football coaches came up with the idea when they would referee annual Powderpuff games. But the COVID pandemic ruined any chance to start the sport until this season.

Richardson reached out to Evelyn Beers, one of the top sports stars at NKHS.

“He told me all about it, gave me the paper, and I got it signed and approved by the ASB and got people to join,” she said.

They joined forces at a club fair shortly after to get as many girls interested as possible. At first, about 30 girls signed up. Richardson said he is still receiving emails and the list has grown to over 40.

“I figured about 20 girls or so since it’s a new thing,” Richardson said. “I’m not sure yet but in terms of getting all the girls playing time and rewarding them for coming out, it would be easier to do an A team and B team.”

Richardson, Beers and assistant coach Dave Snyder have begun scouting some of the top athletes at the school to join. They have been successful in recruiting some of them.

“I like to play a variety of sports so trying something new is a good opportunity for me,” Beers said. “I’m excited to learn a new sport and get to know a different group of people too.”

Abby Knott has come to the first few practices because, “I love football and my track coaches wanted me to try it out.”

The Viking flag football team is joining the Tacoma League with 10 other schools.

“I saw the Seahawks are trying to get it as a WIAA sport and figured what better time than now,” Richardson said. “We give these young ladies the ability to compete and be pioneers in Kitsap and get other schools to start and make another league around here.”

The rules are similar to tackle football. But the field is 40 yards wide and 80 yards long. It is seven players vs. seven. Five are eligible to run a route downfield. One handoff per four downs. The ball is dead once it hits the ground. Extra points are similar to two-point conversions. There are no kickoffs or field goals, and there are two halves. It is a non-contact sport where a “tackle” is pulling a player’s flag.

Since it’s non-sanctioned by the WIAA , NK’s team will be a club sport that practices in the fall and competes in winter.

However, Richardson and the Lady Vikings had their first unofficial practice May 31. The girls have learned the basics of football—like how to catch, throw, run routes and the difference between man and zone defenses.

“I showed them in our first meeting the plays the boys run on the first day, and they were like, ‘That’s too many arrows,’” Richardson said. “I told them we will get there.”

Besides football, Richardson hopes the girls learn another important life lesson. “I hope they build confidence in themselves,” he said. “It’s a good lesson to push yourself outside of something you are comfortable with. It’s the key to growth for anybody.”

The players have even higher hopes—to capture the first football title in school history. “We are going to show the males at our school,” Beers said. “They were second place in the state so we are coming for them.”

Richardson wants the boys and girls to work alongside each other. “I challenged a couple of guys to help be assistant coaches,” he said. “They do it for Powderpuff, and I will push them to be our student section and make it a cool environment for the girls.”

In addition, Richardson said they will be using similar plays. “Offensively, they will get most of our plays passing-wise,” he said. “Defensively, we run a different scheme so I’m not sure how much we will take from it.”

Kailee Fitz practices running routes and catching the football.

Kailee Fitz practices running routes and catching the football.