Bellmore-Merrick Debuts Female Flag Football Team

Collage of flag football players mid-game thumbnail216572
Players stand together on the field thumbnail216573
A player runs with the ball mid-game thumbnail216574
A player catches the ball mid-game thumbnail216575

Bellmore-Merrick’s first ever all female flag football team took to the gridiron in April, making districtwide history.

Twenty-three females make up the roster, including 12 students from Mepham High School, six from Calhoun High School and three from Kennedy High School. They are coached by Anthony Cracco, athletic director, physical education teacher and coach at Mepham and teacher/coach Matthew Moody.

“Three student volunteers, Dom Casella, Dean Holtzman and Ryan Their, members of the Mepham Football team, have added another layer to the program,” said Eric Caballero, director of Physical Education, Athletics, Driver Education and Health.

They won their inaugural game against Plainview-JFK by a score of 47-24 on April 11.

The first score in program history was a 60 yard, pick six by Adriana Iemma from Mepham High School. The offense was led by Sofia LaSpina of Mepham at quarterback who helped guide the offense to six total touchdowns on the day. Other major offensive contributors included Luciana Setteducate and Olivia Brill of Mepham and Gabrielle Hanellin of Calhoun. Sophie Orlich of Calhoun had five tackles for a loss and the game clinching sack of the quarterback. Gabrielle Hanellin and Madeline Ryan of Calhoun each had over five tackles to help limit the Plainview offense.

Jamie Maroof, a senior from Kennedy, had never played in a flag football league before, but always enjoyed pick-up games with her family members throughout her childhood. A basketball player for the Cougars, Maroof did not want her senior year in athletics come to an end.

“I thought it wouldbe a cool and fun opportunity and I was correct,” she said. “It has been such a fun learning experienceas well as an opportunity to meet kids from the other schools in town. There is much more to learn, we're just getting started.”

Caballero and Cracco initiated inclusion in the league in the fall of 2021. After receiving immediate support from Superintendent of Schools Michael Harrington and the board of education, they set out to become one of 16 Long Island teams that make up the High School Girls Flag Football League. However, including New Jersey there are 40 teams in the league.

The league was started with the help of the New York Jets, Nike and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. The season lasts through May and a championship will be held at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in New Jersey.

“I think our community will thoroughly enjoy seeing how competitive this team will be,” added Caballero. “It’s just been an all-around great thing for the district, and we are happy to be a part of this new initiative.”

Date Added: 4/29/2022