Benedictine University Introduces Women’s Flag Football as Varsity Sport

Apr 27, 2024 | Announcements, News, Student Life

Women's Flag Football graphic

Benedictine University proudly announces the addition of Women’s Flag Football as a varsity sport for the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year on its Lisle, Illinois campus. After the February 2024 approval by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) of Girls’ Flag Football as a sanctioned sport, Benedictine University is excited to promote the sport’s growth at the collegiate level, creating opportunities for young women.

“We are thrilled to introduce Women’s Flag Football as a varsity sport at Benedictine University,” states Paul Nelson, Director of Athletics. “With the growing popularity of flag football among high schools in Illinois and nationwide, we believe it’s the perfect time to align our athletic offerings with the evolving landscape of sports participation.” Benedictine University, an NCAA Division III Affiliate competing in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC), aims to become a leading destination for female athletes seeking to pursue flag football at the collegiate level. “We recognize the immense potential for growth in Women’s Flag Football, especially on the world stage with the International Olympic Committee including it as part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” Nelson continues. “By embracing this opportunity now, we are providing a platform for our student-athletes to excel and contribute to the expansion of the sport locally, regionally, and nationally.”

The NCAA and NACC are closely monitoring the emergence of Women’s Flag Football as the sport gains momentum through initiatives such as the NFL’s investment in its development. Benedictine University plans to commence competition in the spring of 2025 with up to eight official games scheduled against other NCAA Division III institutions as well as NAIA and NJCAA institutions.

“As we embark on this exciting journey, we invite talented athletes to join us in shaping the future of Women’s Flag Football,” Nelson adds. “Benedictine University is committed to providing a supportive environment where female student-athletes can thrive both on and off the field.” Caroline Schwartz, a seasoned coach with a passion for fostering talent and leadership, has been appointed as the head coach of Women’s Flag Football at Benedictine University. She brings a wealth of athletic and teaching experiences to her new position. During her undergraduate years at the University of Illinois, she actively participated in the co-ed Flag Football League, enriching her own experiences.

Following her tenure at U of I, Coach Schwartz delved into the field of teaching. She taught middle school and high school in the Houston, Texas area and has gained diverse teaching experiences throughout the Chicago Public School system. Alongside her teaching roles, she also coached high school football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. Currently, as of 2022, Coach Schwartz continues to teach computer science at Lane Tech High School.
In 2022, upon joining the Lane Tech community, Coach Schwartz played a pivotal role in establishing and leading the school’s first Girls’ Flag Football team. Under her leadership as head coach, Lane Tech clinched the City Championship of Chicago and the 2nd Annual State Championship hosted by the Chicago Bears in the fall of 2023.

“Flag Football is breaking barriers for girls, opening doors to futures they never knew were possible, such as playing football at the college level or even becoming a member of Team USA in the 2028 Olympics,” says Schwartz. “While there is still work to be done to achieve true equity in sports, girls and women are currently making waves in the sports world, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for women in sports and, specifically, women in football.”
As Nelson expresses, “In our discussions about Women’s Flag Football, it became evident early on that Caroline was the ideal candidate to spearhead Benedictine University’s venture into this exciting new endeavor. Her unwavering passion for nurturing student-athletes, combined with her fervent ambition to foster the expansion of the sport and its accompanying opportunities, is truly remarkable. We are thrilled to have her in this pivotal role.”

Interested in Women’s Flag Football? Let us know!
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