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Southern Tier Sports Report
There will be a pair of new sports for girls athletes as flag football and girls’ wrestling each earned emerging sports status.

The sports were granted the status as six sections now maintain at least four teams in the sports.

Flag football had a pilot program in the Spring and girls wrestlers had a chance to compete at the Section 4 championships this past year, but many were still wrestling as part of boys teams during the season.

Being granted this status will result in a committee being formed for each sport and eventually a championship to be developed.

Horseheads had one of the pilot flag football programs during the spring and will be one of the team’s with that sport, and they are also going to add a girls’ wrestling team this year as well.

“Horseheads will be having a girls’ wrestling team and girls’ flag football,” Horseheads athletic director Charles DeTaeye said. “Both exciting opportunities for young females. Any opportunity to expand athletics to either gender is an opportunity that should be considered and started if possible. Athletics does so many great things for our students and community.”

For Horseheads wrestling coach Brett Owen it’s great to see Horseheads gaining girls’ wrestling.

“This is great for our sport, especially for females,” Owen said. “It will help grow the sport. “The current staff has been slowly recruiting. I know Narayani (Niraula) is excited (after being the lone girl on the boys’ varsity wrestling team last year). We did have 3-4 new girls from Horseheads to attend at least one day of camp last week.”

For other schools in the area they are looking at these new sports and will look to see if this brings new possibilities for teams at their schools in the near future.

“At Corning we are excited to hear about the emerging sports and the opportunity that gives many student athletes in New York State,” Corning athletic director Rebecca Gentile said. “We will be examining the structure of our programs to ensure we are Title IX compliant prior to making any decisions.

“We always look to expand programs appropriately, while keeping student-athletes at the forefront. There are also some serious conversations occurring in regard to adding Unified Soccer as an extramural sport this fall. Still a lot to iron out in a short amount of time, but we will always do what is best for our kids. They truly are the center of all we do.”

Elmira athletic director Zach Lloyd is hoping to see the sports coming to Elmira soon.

“I hope to see both girls wrestling and flag football at Elmira as long as there is interest,” Lloyd said. “We will make every attempt to get these off the ground.

“I think adding opportunities for kids at any level is a great thing. Our female athletes deserve the opportunity to compete, and I am happy to help provide those opportunities.”

It was a successful first year for the Horseheads flag football team and they are excited to see what’s to come next.

“I am excited,” coach Kevin Hillman said at the end of final home flag football game of the season. “I think these girls now that they got a taste and they are excited to start to see some of the girls in the hallway make comments, ‘oh, I’m going to do that next year.’ I am excited to kind of build this program. I am just blessed to be able to do football now and in the spring.

“Next year they are looking to have a regional championship and have sectionals and a regional champion and I think they are looking to have a state championship within three years, so it’s exciting.”

For the players on this year’s team it was special to be a part of history.

“We are making history, we are leaving a legacy, we are super excited about it,” Sarah Hunt said. “Now, I think a lot of people are starting to hear about this, just people coming up to me in the hallways saying good job in the game. We are so excited, we are are building it up, we are building a great legacy.”

The players can’t wait to see how far this sport goes in the future.

“I can’t wait to see this grow, I know there is going to be a lot more people now that they are seeing they can play it,” Shae Thomas said.

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