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Flag Football Jersey Reveal Presented by Nike and the Bucs
Tampa's powerhouse flag football teams prepare for their Oregon game with new gear.
August 21, 2022
Girls are running the world as RHS runs to the Nike World.
In just a few days, Robinson High School and Alonso High School’s flag football teams will fly out to Nike World Headquarters in Oregon to play a televised game on the NFL network.
On Thursday, Aug. 18, both teams headed to the Raymond James Stadium for some essential items for their next week. Alongside the new uniforms that they’ll be wearing at the game, the girls also received a pair of leggings, shorts, gloves, duffle bags, cleats, bracelets, mouthguards, headbands and socks. They were also able to take home the name tags above their lockers.
“Just being in the Bucs’ locker room was so cool, but then we saw lockers with our names and numbers and our personalized jerseys and gear and that was just another level of excitement. It was so crazy and didn’t even feel real at first,” Amelia Kempton (’24) said.
They were first formally welcomed in by Tara Battiato, the Vice President of Community Impact for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With RHS and AHS as the face of expanding women’s flag football across the nation, Battiato comes in full support.
“These two schools have really set the standard right for flag football amongst girls, but it is just exciting to see the sport grow and to see the generational change for girls and women to know that they can be football players if they want to be,” Battiato said.
The RHS jersey has now adopted a Nike Elite HS logo since they and Alonso became the first two flag football programs in the country to be recognized as Nike Elite High School Flag Football teams back in January of this year.
Robinson’s come a long way since they first teamed up with Nike for a sponsorship in 2019. The Knights and Ravens were both featured in a Nike Super Bowl ad that same year. Now at seven state titles, they’re about to play one of their biggest games yet, now with new gear.
This trip will be a landmark moment for the players, many who have been playing since middle school.
“It’s been a really amazing journey and I think I’m really lucky to have been in middle school when Hillsborough County made flag a girls sport for middle schoolers, so I could begin playing. Since I’ve been in high school, that journey has been even better. As with the help of all the coaches and older players, I grew a lot as a player and person,” said Bella Rodrigues (’23), one of the four flag captains.
The Tampa teams will be accompanied to the Nike World Headquarters campus by the Bay Area’s Nike Team Territory Manager, Milena Savich, who was there at Raymond James to show off the new merch. Savich is responsible for outfitting both Robinson and Alonso with their Nike uniforms, cleats, apparel, equipment and all other gear from the company.
“Days like today and really seeing the reactions on the girls’ faces… the connection that they have with Nike as a brand and what it means to them to wear our product, it makes them feel their best and feel their most confident. They perform well in it and I love just playing a small part in their athletic journey,” Savich said.
Savich has been with the Knights and Ravens in their growth with the Nike sponsorship. As she awaits the upcoming game, she’s choosing to remain neutral.
“I’m team Swoosh,” Savich said. “Nike wins this one.”
Pictures in the locker room should be credited to not only media people but also the teams’ parents, supporting their Nike Elite children.
“I am super excited. This is [Ajayla’s] second year with Robinson and this is her first experience with the flag football team. I’m super excited, she’s super excited… can’t wait. I am so happy that it is being televised so that my parents and friends and other family members are going to get to see it. We’re just all excited,” Annie Jones, mother of Ajayla Jones (’25), said.
Excitement is on everyone’s minds and the anticipation for the big day only grows.
“I’m looking forward to the experience that we will be able to have, especially when I get to do it with my friends all by my side. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Keira Logan (’24) said.
Girls flag football isn’t often broadcasted on national television, but Robinson along with their Town ‘N’ Country friends will be changing that when their game airs on Aug. 26. The game is more of an exhibition game and the score won’t be kept for a victor, but both teams will leave feeling like winners given what difference they’ve made for women’s athletics at a high school level. Rodrigues hopes the game draws attention.
“It’ll be very empowering and will give young girls watching who will play the sport a really cool chance to see themselves be represented and feel like they too can succeed in the sport,” Rodrigues said.