California weighs making flag football a girls’ school sport

California officials are considering a plan to make flag football a girls’ high school sport amid soaring popularity of the game and a push to get more female athletes on the field.

The federated council of the California Interscholastic Federation — the statewide body that governs high school athletics — is expected to vote Friday on the plan at a meeting in Long Beach. If the measure passes, flag football would be an official high school sport for girls in the nation’s most populous state for the upcoming 2023-24 year.

Paula Hart Rodas, president-elect of the CIF Southern Section’s council, said the goal is to get more girls involved in high school sports and tap into a widespread love of football by many who are loath to play tackle. Southern California schools spanning from Long Beach to Corona are hoping to start teams in the fall and an approval would allow districts to add the sport to their budgets, Hart Rodas said.

“You can love the game of football and not love getting tackled but still want to participate,” Hart Rodas said. “Flag right now is aimed directly at getting more girls involved in athletics by adding a different sport that we know girls across the country are interested in, but not willing to play tackle for a variety of reasons.”

Other states have already added girls’ flag football to school athletic programs, including Alabama and Nevada. New York state’s public high school athletic association took a similar step this week and expects to host the first state championship for girls flag football in the spring of 2024.

The vote in California comes amid a surge in interest in flag football among younger players in recreational leagues and burgeoning support from the NFL and teams such as the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, which have been running a pilot high school league for girls in Southern California.

Scores of schools signed up to participate in the pilot and those selected to do so — and the eager young players who played in it — have widely been seen as pioneers in the sport.

Paul Schmidt said being part of a start-up has been exciting for his 14-year-old daughter, who had never played flag football before she tried out for the team at Redondo Union High School — one of the schools participating in the league. Making the sport official, he said, would make it easier to secure field time and give a boost to a tight-knit team of girls that has bonded around starting something new.

“She loves it, loves it. It’s exciting to be in a new sport,” he said.

Rising interest in flag football — in which no one gets tackled and a play ends when an opposing player pulls a flag from a belt around the ball-carrier’s waist — comes amid concern about the risk of concussions and other injuries from tackle football.

In the decade leading up to 2018-19, the number of girls playing flag football in U.S. high schools doubled to 11,000, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Without the CIF’s approval, California high schools could organize flag football clubs. But coaches said allowing official interscholastic competition will likely drive more schools to start teams and develop a pipeline of players.

Troy Vincent Sr., the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, wrote in the Sacramento Bee that times have changed since he played professional football, which back then was “broadly seen as a man’s game.” He said high school players might be able to play into college and beyond as universities have also ramped up the sport.

Vincent is also pushing to get flag football added to 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“This is no longer just a backyard sport for girls’ pickup games during family holiday gatherings,” he said.

Obituary: Mary Burke

November 12, 1930 – December 25, 2022

Mary Eloise Burke passed away on December 25, 2022, at Barton Skilled Nursing Facility in South Lake Tahoe, after 92 years of a fulfilling life.
Though born in Tucson, Arizona, she moved with her family to San Diego, California as a baby girl. They lived there in North Park until her 1947 marriage to Thomas J Burke and starting her own family in Spring Valley.
When Mary’s children were young, the phrase “stay-at-home-mom” didn’t exist, wives were at home with the children and husbands worked. And Mary was an exceptional wife and mother who cared deeply for her family and was proud of doing so. After her 1963 divorce she never remarried, but continued to be a source of strength, and laughter and joy.
With a 1981 move to South Lake Tahoe, Mary worked at the Harrah’s Casino until retirement, enjoying her role interacting with a variety of people.
Also an avid gardener with a green thumb, Mary loved watching her flowers grow, and would say, “there’s nothing more precious than the face of a pansy.” She took the time to admire and share the tiniest detail of her world. Her broad interests included a deep love for the ocean, nature, animals, science, and camping with her family.
Mary is survived by her six children Eileen, Kathleen, Susan, Thomas, and Robert; as well as 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
If you were lucky to know Mary, her sense of humor and contagious laughter, raise a coffee cup in loving memory. She will live on in our hearts forever.
The family will celebrate her life privately as she wished.

Tahoe Conservancy elects Acosta as board chairman, Wallace vice chair

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The California Tahoe Conservancy on Thursday announced the election of Adam Acosta as its new Board Chairman and Tamara Wallace as Vice Chair. Acosta is the first Latino to chair the Conservancy Board.

“I am honored to have been elected as the Conservancy Board Chair,” said Acosta. “I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow Board members and the Conservancy staff. In addition to the important work of restoring and expanding equitable access to Tahoe’s natural resources, I’m excited by the Conservancy’s increasing commitment to racial equity — a commitment that’s closely aligned with Governor Newsom’s administration.”

The California State Assembly appointed Acosta to the Conservancy Board in 2017. Acosta serves as a senior policy advisor to the Los Angeles City Council. Previously, he was the Assistant Executive Director for the California American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. During his 24-year career with AFSCME, he spearheaded the reform of public sector labor laws on behalf of municipal and county employees throughout the state of California.

Acosta was born and raised in Santa Barbara and graduated from San Diego State University. He is an avid outdoorsman who frequents the Eastern High Sierra with his two children Adam and Isabela.

“Adam Acosta is a leader who is respected statewide and who has always brought a welcome perspective to our Board,” said Jason Vasques, the Conservancy’s executive director. “I look forward to working with Adam and Vice-Chair Wallace in their new roles as our agency continues to expand our work to address emerging issues like climate resilience and reducing wildfire risk for our communities.”

Wallace has served as the city of South Lake Tahoe’s representative to the Conservancy Board since 2020. A member of the South Lake Tahoe City Council, she is a past member of the City’s Planning Commission, past-president of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Tahoe and was the charter secretary for the Tulare Sunrise Rotary Club. She has managed several small businesses in South Lake Tahoe, is past executive vice president of the Tulare Chamber of Commerce and the former Executive Director of the South Tahoe Chamber.

Tamara Wallace

The Conservancy thanks past Board Chair Sue Novasel and past Vice Chair Cindy Gustafson for their service.

At the same meeting, leaders from the Equity and Wellness Institute led the Board through a training on community engagement and racial equity. The Conservancy has engaged the Equity and Wellness Institute in a two-year contract to help build the Conservancy’s capacity to achieve racial equity goals and better engage with the communities it serves.

Winds, light snow to end work week at Tahoe followed by a more potent storm on Sunday

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A weak, quick-moving storm entering the Lake Tahoe region today will bring light snow and gusty winds and will be followed by a stronger system for the weekend that could drop more than a foot of snow.

The National Weather Service in Reno said in a special statement that southwest winds will begin to increase Thursday afternoon in higher terrain, peaking early Friday morning. Ridgetop gusts may hit triple digits and could result in some aviation and mountain recreation disruptions before the wind gusts begin to diminish Friday afternoon.

Light snow showers are also likely with 2 inches possible along the Sierra crest and a dusting for the basin. The service said even a couple inches of snow on highways could lead to slick and hazardous conditions.

The second, and more potent system, is expected to move into the Sierra Saturday night through Sunday which will likely result in widespread travel impacts due to moderate snow, the service said.

Upwards of a foot of snow is possible along Sierra passes and there’s a 15% chance of up to 18 inches. The Tahoe Basin is expected to receive 4-8 inches.

The service said lingering snow showers will be possible through Monday morning followed by cold temperatures that will be about 10 degrees below seasonal averages, which means lower 30s for the Sierra, and will rebound to near averages through next week with low chances for precipitation.

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