The Massapequa Chiefs athletic program is growing, with a new sport being added to the spring lineup this year and potentially beyond. Massapequa High School is taking part in a pilot program for a girls flag football league and it is already creating buzz as more than 50 girls attended a pair of general interest meetings.
Through a partnership between the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the New York Giants, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills football teams, the program is being offered in six athletic sections in the state. Massapequa is one of eight high schools from Section VIII, Nassau County, that will field a team in April and May and will play six to eight games. Competition will be seven-on-seven on a regulation-size field
“This is another opportunity for our female athletes to get involved,” Director of physical education, health, athletics and recreation Shannon McEntee said. “It’s really exciting that we will be among the first flag football teams in the county and the state. Participation in this program is tremendous for the district and for the girls.”
Startup costs are funded by a grant from the Jets including money for jerseys, footballs and belts and flags. A shortened season will begin on April 4, a few weeks after the other spring teams. McEntee said that she expects the pilot program to be successful and to add a varsity team with a full schedule for the spring 2023 season.
The new team will feature a mix of new and established athletes. McEntee said many girls who expressed interest in flag football have never been on a varsity team, while others have played for Massapequa’s fall and winter teams including basketball, bowling, soccer and volleyball.
Because it is a non-contact sport, games can be played more frequently than boys football. McEntee envisions a schedule of Saturday afternoon games at Massapequa High School and Monday night games under the lights on the Berner Middle School field.
Senior Alyssa Papasodero will be one of the inaugural members of the team and was invited to attend a launch party at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. When Papasodero and future flag football players from other high school walked into the Jets locker room, they were surprised with a locker full of new equipment and a customized jersey for each student. Less of a surprise was the number on Papasodero’s blue and gold Massapequa jersey: 1.
“I wanted to be a part of history this year,” Papasodero said of why she has committed to the team. She already plays ice hockey for Massapequa.
The launch party included photo sessions, interviews and a panel of speakers for National Women and Girls in Sports Day. Papasodero, who attended with her father and McEntee, said it energized her for the upcoming season. She hopes Massapequa can make the playoffs, which would be held at the Jets practice facility, but is more enthusiastic about breaking new ground.
“I think we can really go far this year,” Papasodero said. “But it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about starting something new here in Massapequa.”
—Submitted by the Massapequa School District