A little over one month ago, the AHSAA announced it would be sanctioning girls flag football starting this upcoming fall. Since then, Opelika High School has gotten the ball rolling on starting a team, and on Monday the Lady Bulldogs announced who will be leading the squad during its inaugural season.
Opelika girls soccer coach Jaclyn Button has added the role of head girls flag football coach to her duties. Button has served as the soccer team’s head coach since 2017 following four years as an assistant; she was also an assistant girls varsity basketball coach and the head junior varsity coach from 2013 to 2018.
“I’m really excited to bring this new sport to Opelika and just kind of get it kicked off with a new team of girls. I just think it’s going to be a great new start and give them something else they can try out for with some new experiences,” Button said. “I was excited about learning a new sport and giving the girls an opportunity to play a sport that I wished they’d had when I was in school. I’m definitely going to have to learn a lot about the 7-on-7 rules, but I just thought it would be a great opportunity.”
Button said Opelika athletic director Mike Pugh asked around the athletic department about anyone interested in the position, and it didn’t take her long to speak up. She explained she played intramural flag football while in college, and being involved with more student-athletes during the fall appealed to her since soccer is a spring sport.
Button’s role will not only be a new experience for her, but it will help create a chance for more Opelika students to participate in athletics.
“It will be one more way for our female athletes to be accountable and be part of a team,” Opelika principal Farrell Seymore said in a statement. “Coach Button is a veteran coach who is committed to student success and leading with integrity. We are excited to offer another strong program for our students.”
Button explained there are plenty of learning curves for herself and her players ahead, from learning rules and strategies to logistical hurdles like ordering uniforms and all the proper equipment. Still, Button repeatedly expressed her excitement about her new endeavor and what adding the team can mean for its future members.
Button is in the process of rounding up potential participants – those interested are asked to either sign up on the list by her classroom or to email her at email@example.com – with their first challenge coming next week. Button said the team will hold tryouts for all girls from ninth to 12th grade from 3:45-6:00 p.m. on Monday, May 17 at the high school.
Button said she anticipates the team’s game schedule to mimic the boys football team’s and that her squad will likely begin practice in mid-August with games coming soon after.
Button and her new team have plenty of work ahead, but she’s totally committed to getting things started.
“I’ve always said that to be the start of the first thing, you’ve got nothing else to compare to. We can just go out and do our best and start out strong,” Button said. “It’s just going to kind of be a fun learning year and just give the girls a chance to kind of go out and play some of the football I’m sure they’ve all watched being down here with SEC schools. Now they’re going to get a chance to go out and do it. I just think it’s a good opportunity to let them try something new.”