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Breaking Barriers: Meet Ft. Worth ISD's Pioneering Girls Flag Football Coach



In the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, another boom is slowly gaining steam in the high school athletics sector. Just four miles away from Ft. Worth Meacham International Airport, North Side High School has taken off into local stardom with the rise of the Lady Steers flag football team. The head coach of this trailblazing team is J.P Elder Middle School Girls' Athletic Coordinator Kylie Johnson, who is no stranger to the rough-and-tumble nature of the pigskin. “I grew up playing sports with the boys. I remember playing football during recess in elementary school, leading to playing powder puff in high school and then playing four years of intramural flag football at the University of North Texas,” Johnson said. 


Even without flag football being officially sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), the Ft. Worth ISD has become a pioneer in the sport and has a two-division structure with

every high school fielding a team. Ft. Worth Paschal even has two separate teams. However, Johnson’s Lady Steers have arguably been the district's most dominant team. In her first season as a head coach, Johnson finished the 2023 season with a perfect 8-0 record and a Division I championship. On top of this, her team earned 2nd place district-wide and coached All-American Ti'yanna Johnson in the 2023 All-American US Army Bowl Game.


Her glowing remarks on her team not only extended to the 45 total varsity and junior varsity players, she also shined a light on her coaching staff. “I cannot take all the credit. Coach Irwin Garcia, our defensive coordinator, is also a difference-maker in our North Side program, I could not do it without him. Although we take coaching seriously, we never lose sight that sports are meant to be fun, and a team is meant to feel like family,” Johnson said. 


Johnson also described how making history with the flag football program has had its fair share of hurdles both on and off the field. “One of the biggest misconceptions about flag football is the fact that some people think girls can't play football and women can't coach it. I have some of the toughest girls in my program who share that same love and passion for the game as me,” she explained. “Losing key players to injuries has and will always be one of the hardest obstacles to face. But, adversity has to be taken on as an entire team.”


But the future is bright not only for the Lady Steers but for the entire sport. The 2028 Olympics will be the first to host flag football and multiple National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools have flag football as an officially sanctioned sport. Johnson concluded, “I currently have one player from last year's team playing College Flag Football and I have many seniors this year who are in the recruiting process with some offers. Flag is growing quickly and is providing lots of opportunities for young athletes who love football.”


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