by Rachel Meiselas
Starting on Thursday, February 3rd, over 199 youth football teams from around the world attended the 2022 NFL Flag Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. The action-packed championship game weekend continued through February 6th, drawing in sponsors such as Subway, Nerf, Gatorade, and TeamSnap. As the weekend came to a close, it became evident that “champz” existed on the field in the tournament games and also off the field enjoying the camaraderie and competition of the Blitz Champz card game.
Invented by two-time women’s tackle football gold medalist and four-time national champion, Adrienne Smith, Blitz Champz is an award-winning football card game that is the first of its kind to include female athletes. The game is a mix of Uno, Spades, and Blackjack, and is enjoyable to youths and adults alike, as it teaches and tests football knowledge, strategy, and math skills in order to allow for an engaging, competitive atmosphere.
When individuals were not on the field playing or watching a game in progress, they were still competing at the Blitz Champz booth. The Blitz Champz team took the event head on, displaying card game demonstrations, live action games, and giving away prizes such as a Blitz Champz headband, backpack, and tee-shirt. These prizes were worn and embraced by kids and adults alike throughout the tournament weekend.
On the first day of the tournament, people enjoyed playing Blitz Champz so much that before the card game team could set up on day two, there were people waiting eager to play. One of those individuals was Nicholas, a young football fan who showed up to the Blitz Champz booth bright and early each day, becoming a six-time winner. Nicholas was also a leader, bringing others to nearby tables to play the card game themselves.
Parents also enjoyed the Blitz Champz card game, as the game proved to be educational in an entertaining way. Macy, a mother whose daughter participated in the 17u girls division, experienced playing Blitz Champz and believed that the game was structurally great. She also stated that Blitz Champz is, “Easy to pick up and learn [because of ] the color coding and icons.” Macy also praised Blitz Champz on its ability to be played anywhere. She expressed that the game could be “played on the grass” and that they loved “playing it at home.”
Blitz Champz was also enjoyed by professional football players. Former Tight End of the Oakland Raiders, Teyo Johnson, came out to the card game booth to play the game. He was dedicated to the game, eager to prove that although he was losing to his fellow card game players, he would come back and win because, “Oakland is a second half team.” After losing to Nicholas however, Mr. Johnson proved to be a good sport and took pictures with some of the Blitz Champz players, even going so far as to autograph their Blitz Champz merchandise.
When the players left the card game booth, feeling like “champz,” that attitude continued on the field in the tournament games.
The tournament included both male and female flag football players, with championship games extending to 14u boys and 17u girls. Although the teams bore their original team names from their respective leagues, they played in NFL jerseys throughout the tournament.
On the field, the teams to watch out for could be found in the 14u girls division. The teams of this division were not only competitive and dedicated, but they were motivated to support the female football movement and prove that girls can do anything. Gridiron Queendom had the opportunity to interview some of these female “champz,” asking them what football means to them. After their first win on Friday, Sarah of the Staten Island Giants expressed that football means everything to her and stated, “The fact that it’s [female football] getting bigger for women makes [me] so happy.”
Ultimately, the 2022 NFL Flag National “champz” of the 14u girls division were the Texas Fury, who won the championship game over the Virginia Hurricanes with a score of 20-0. From the moment these girls walked into the tournament, it was evident that they were “champz.” The players, coaching staff, and supportive families helped bring energy to the tournament and those that were playing.
After winning the championship, the 14u Texas Fury girls were awarded their championship rings. The MVP of the game was Emma Clark and because of her commitment to football and its female progression, she was awarded the Blitz Champz Sol Mat. After her win, Emma lounged out on the Sol Mat, taking in the historic moment.
Although there were only a few winners who walked away with championship rings, each and every player, parent, sibling, staff member, coach, and Blitz Champz participant were “champz” after such a remarkable flag football tournament.