NBHS Powderpuff Footbal
Unexpected, Exciting and a Really Good Game
There’s a second NBHS football team in town and if enthusiasm is any indication, it’s a real winner. The New Britain High School Powderpuff Football team is made up of 52 senior girls from NBHS who play a mean game of flag football. They will face off against their one and only opponent, Southington High’s team, at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 22nd in Veterans Stadium. This annual rivalry game, held this year on the evening before Thanksgiving, has been a highlight since 2010 and draws over 1,000 spectators. The money from ticket sales goes toward several senior class projects and scholarships.
This is not your stereotyped, wimpy, feminine game as played by these girls. After only a few minutes of observing their practice it was obvious that it was physical, disciplined and sweaty. And yet the girls look forward to being on the team even years in advance. Four of the team members, Courtney Sterling, Maggie Polkowski, Cate Keithline and Tiara Rivera all had older sisters who once played on the team and the four shared how much they looked forward to doing it too.
According to them, “It brings us together into a kind of family and a real community.”
Asked if they were good at the game they all nodded, but when asked if they were going to beat Southington they chorused “Yes!. It brings us all together and we work together like a family, and then (at the game) it becomes a whole community thing.”
Each September, only girls from NBHS’ senior class try for the team. Under the tutoring of their coaches, Carlos Pina (Head Coach), Chris McWilliams (Offensive Coordinator), Bryan Anderson (Defensive Coordinator), Kimani Riley (Special Teams) and Janice Pina (Advisor), the girls spend Saturdays and Sundays learning the skills needed to beat Southington.
Coach Pina admits that starting with a whole new crew each year can be challenging, but said that their dedication and enthusiasm made it fun. The coaches are all volunteers and not paid for their lost weekends.
Quarterback and a Team Co-captain, Gabriella Roy, stated, “I have been looking forward to doing this for years. This is not just flag football, it is intense and physical and just something that is fun for girls to do. I love it.”
Asked if they could win if they ever played the boys in flag football, she confidently replied, “I think we’d have a good shot.” “It’s definitely a good thing not just for the high school but for the City of New Britain when people come out for the games. It’s (also) a big fund raiser for the class of 2018. So just tell everyone to come out for the game.”
Linebacker and also a Team Co-captain, Gianna Gonzales, was asked, “Why do you do this?” She replied, “Everybody in New Britain High School looks forward to this. We get together with a lot of the girls and just have a fun time and get to compete against one of our greatest rival teams.”
While girls’ flag football may be unusual here in Connecticut, in many southern states is is a common varsity level sport. The primary difference between flag and regular football is that instead of tackling the ball carrier, defensive players try to grab and detach one of the cloth strips on the left and right hips of the ball carrier. While other schools in the area have had girls’ teams for short periods in the past, only NBHS and Southington have managed to keep the sport going.
Past proceeds from ticket sales to the annual game have paid for the girls’ jerseys, class year books, the senior prom and also went to 8 scholarships last year. The team is especially excited this year as their game with Southington is “the only game in town” that evening before Thanksgiving and being held in Veterans Stadium. They expect a large crowd of spectators, parents and friends as well as a really good football game.
According to NBHS Principal Joseph Pinchera, “Powderpuff football brings a lot of excitement to our school community. Our girls love to compete every year against Southington. Both schools show great sportsmanship on and off the field. I am looking forward to the game.”
The game is set for Wednesday, November 22nd, at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets for the game are $5 each and may be bought at the NBHS school office and also at the Mayor’s Office. Tickets at the Veterans Stadium gate on Nov 22nd will be $7.