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Varsity coach wants to grow the game

Olivia Holman grew up watching football with her dad, and she was often found playing football at recess.

But she never got to play competitively or learn much more about the sport until now.

She’s planning on playing flag football with her cheer and hockey teammates with a new Go Girl Flag Football League.

“I’m really excited to play,” Holman said. “I feel like it’s awesome that females are able to share that we can do the same things.”

The new metro area flag football league is being organized by Rosemount varsity football coach Jeff Erdmann.

It’s open to all girls in the Twin Cities metro, from Farmington to White Bear Lake to Plymouth.

There are two levels: grades 6-8 and 9-12. The teams will play eight regular season games over a five-week period starting June 15, and compete in a playoff series.

Practices start May 23.

Teams are made up of at least seven players along with a parent coordinator.

“We ask for seven players,” Erdmann said. “That seems to be the magic number. Kids might be gone. Some kids might want to sit out a quarter. We let the kids work out the positions and the plays.”

Players can join as individuals who will be placed on teams.

Erdmann said athletes from other sports such as competition cheer team, basketball, lacrosse and hockey have signed up.

He urged anyone interested to sign up even if they didn’t have a team.

“I have a list of individuals already signed up,” Erdmann said. “We have plenty of interest.”

They will play five-on-five. The rules are at gogirlflagfootball.com.

Participants will make game-time decisions like calling plays and rotating players.

Erdmann has been a head football coach for 31 years, so he’ll fill their heads full of football knowledge before they play.

“There’s a huge educational component,” Erdmann said. “We’ll teach the game.”

But the teams will have full autonomy.

“I’m old school. I remember growing up as a kid, there weren’t dads and moms there too,” Erdmann said. “When provided the opportunity, kids will rise to that expectation.”

He’s confident the girls will be able to pick up the sport pretty quickly.

“I think they’ll find there’s a lot of similarities to other sports they play,” Erdmann said. “Zone and man defense, they probably play that in other sports.”

He’s also well aware of some of the issues facing the sport, especially at a youth level with a lack of coaches, board members and officials.

Last season while coaching the varsity football team, he said for the first time he saw a female official on the field.

“I asked myself: ‘What am I doing to foster that?’ ” he said. “Across the nation, we’re seeing youth football groups struggle to get coaches and refs, people on youth (athletic association) boards. It’s always a struggle. People are busy. Those are areas where we could see our sport improve with women being more involved. That’s half the population. I think they could be some great additions.”

Participants will have the opportunity to apply for an internship in the fall to work with the Rosemount football staff.

“If we find some athletes and they’re locked in,” Erdmann said, “they’re locked in. It would be like a graduate assistant.”

Erdmann said he hopes this is just the beginning.

For more information, visit gogirlflagfootball.com.

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