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MPS Reagan team plays in first-ever girls flag football team scrimmage during halftime at Lambeau

Reagan Flag Football Lambeau touchdownBeing part of the first-ever girls flag football scrimmage at the home of the Green Bay Packers quickly got real for the team from Reagan College Preparatory High School, as they headed down the ramp to Lambeau Field. 

“Seeing all those people… The more steps you took, the more people you saw,” Reagan junior Ladi Wake said of the crowd of 80,000 in the stands.  

“This doesn’t feel real,” she thought, during halftime of the Packers game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 17. In moments, though, it was go time for the Reagan team’s 6-minute scrimmage against the team from Weyauwega-Fremont High School. 

“I was still kind of nervous, but as soon as the coach called out what play we were going to do, I was locked in,” Ladi said. “It’s the same play we were running in practices. I knew how to block it out.” 

The Reagan girls had been in Green Bay before. In spring, they were among 10 exhibition teams from around the state in a round-robin competition organized by the Packers. They played at the Don Hutson Center, the Packers’ indoor training center near Lambeau Field.  

But being on the field at Lambeau was another thing altogether. 

“It’s a cathedral of football. There are people who put that on their bucket list, to see a game. And we were able to walk down the tunnel,” said Greg Roman, the head coach of the Reagan boys football team who also coached the Reagan girls flag football team. 

Of the 10 state teams that played in April, four were picked at random to scrimmage at Lambeau.  

Reagan Flag Football Lambeau LeapWith five minutes left in the second quarter and warmups and coin toss complete, Reagan’s team was taken down the ramp to face off against Weyauwega. Teams from Clayton and Shawano would scrimmage at the other end of the field.  

The growing excitement and nerves were palpable, Roman said, as the girls headed to the field. As they walked behind the Buc’s bench, fans in the stands reached out.  

Ladi recalled “high-fiving probably a hundred people. Everyone just reached down with their hands. … That’s what made me less nervous — it was so welcoming. They didn’t boo us if we didn’t catch a ball; they cheered for us. It was just a very welcoming environment.” 

The ramp the team walked down happened to be where the action was on the field; the Packers and Buccaneers were “just literally yards from us,” Roman said. 

“It’s so loud in there — just the way it contains noise,” Roman said of Lambeau. “I think it’s even more impressive than Camp Randall” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The noise of it is kind of overwhelming.” 

After stopping Weyauwega on downs, the Reagan girls got the ball. Reagan junior Josie Estremera scored, even capping the touchdown with a Lambeau leap (with the help of a Reagan teacher and athletic director who hoisted her to the wall).  

And just like that, the 6-minute scrimmage was over; there was just enough time for a group photo. “The next thing you know, the Buccaneers and Packers are out on the field,” Roman said, with Bucs players kicking footballs over the girls on the field. 

Reagan Flag Football Lambeau runningThere was a lot to take in, but Reagan senior Neko Houghton noticed the little girls at the front of the stands who were there to see the Packers with their families but getting to see high school girls take the field, too. 

“They looked so excited to see someone just a little older than them” being able to play a team sport at Lambeau, Neko said.  

“It was so much more than us having that experience,” Neko said of the scrimmage. It represented possibilities for the future, that girls flag football could become a sanctioned team sport for high schools in Wisconsin as it is in other states and at colleges across the country. The sport has been gaining traction in recent years with supporters such as the National Football League behind it.  

And even though the flag football teams who played at Lambeau were competitive, “we all were there to do something unique, so there was the sense of camaraderie among all the different schools,” Neko observed. 

 

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