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Santa Fe Raiders form first girls flag football team in Alachua County

Written by Cliff Tumetel


Santa Fe high school athletics program has done it again, first, they formed a swim team--the first one in the program, now they can add another one and that's making the first-ever competitive girl's flag football team here in Alachua county.


The idea came around the time when Santa Fe football season ended and some girls came up asking head coach Joe Szymanski about flag football.


"I took the idea to our AD Michele Faulk who thought it was a great idea and we started putting everything together trying to get the girls, paperwork, and stuff. Took it to her and she said it was a good thing to start in our county since we haven't had one yet," Szymanski said.


Among the Lady Raiders and this new team, there's one who has a bit more experience in the field and her name is Brooke Zeller.


"I always play flag football when I was younger but then when I got to high school I play tackle football. I just really fell in love with it. It's like the only sport I love to do and then they came up with the flag football team so I was like 'I'm going to join it, 'cause I love doing it,'" Zeller said.


Make no mistake she is very passionate about the game, pushing her teammates to keep pushing past their limits.


"Confidence is a big part of girls you have to have it and if you don't then I'll make you have it. I'm going to help you through whatever I can," Zeller said.


The other coach Heath Brannen knows that her passion and love for the game helps the rest of her team.


"That passion can bleed over to other players. We had a game last night and she was a very vocal leader and she made those other girls realize 'you know what, I can be vocal too, I can start being a cheerleader as well," Brannen said.


While the team has been playing games both coaches know that this season is a stepping stone for the program and in their eyes its all about having a great time each game.


"We want to form a love here for the game and not necessarily a chore or a hatred towards it but a love towards it and love doing this together," Brannen said.

The future seems bright for the program as they'll continue to forge bonds, have a good time, and continue to make history.




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