SOMERS, N.Y. – It sounds like the plot of a made-for-TV sports movie: A girls flag football league is canceled, leaving them with no choice but to form a team to compete against the boys, who no doubt underestimate the girls’ abilities. But not only do the girls teach the boys a lesson about gender bias, they go and win the whole thing.
The Blue Hawks, a team of nine girls heading into the first and second grades, last month won the flag football championship in a league hosted by Sports Center Consulting and the Somers Sports Arena.
The boys indoor league was supposed to start in the spring but was postponed until the summer and moved outdoors because of the pandemic. The girls league, however, was canceled due to pandemic restrictions and the lack of access to facilities.
So Maria Murolo, whose daughter plays flag football, reached out to a manager at Somers Sports Arena and asked, “If I can get a team together, can girls play” in the boys league? Once she got the go-ahead, Murolo was able to form a team of nine girls, two of whom had never played football before. When the girls showed up to play, many of the boys thought a win was assured.
“They weren’t trying to be mean,” said Murolo, who coached the team with her husband, John, and Joe DiLeo. “But they thought, ‘We’re playing the girls. We’re going to kill these girls.’ We said just go out there, have a good time. They won the first game and they were so excited.”
The Blue Hawks ended up going 6-1 in the regular season, earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which afforded them a chance for revenge.
“We ended up playing the team we lost to [in the regular season] in the championship, and we ended up winning in overtime,” Murolo said. “It was so exciting.”
Despite only being 5, 6 and 7 years old, the girls recognized their accomplishment.
“I think they understood the importance of it,” Murolo said. “This is something important, to show you have every right to play [with the boys]. Along the way, they were beginning to understand that.”
The league included teams from Somers and out of town.
“It was really fun,” Murolo said. “It was a positive experience. It was just a feel-good story. Our hope is that other girls see this and say, ‘I can do this.’ ”
Blue Hawks players are Chiara Murolo, Grace Annunziato, Sophia Schoenberg, Tessa Antonucci, Layla Murolo, Sophie DiLeo, Riley DiLeo, Ann Dugmore and Charlotte Salmon.