AHSAA opening doors in girls sports

Published 10:44 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

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The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently met for their annual Central Board meeting at the AHSAA office on Wednesday. The board approved the sanctioning of girls flag football as well as girls wrestling as championship sports.

Both sports will begin being champion sanctioned sports beginning with the 2024 season. Each sport will be split into two classifications. Class 1A-5A will be one classification, and 6A-7A will be its own classification. 

Because the AHSAA is in the middle of a classification period, girls flag football and girls wrestling will have to wait another year to have a sanctioned championship game. This season girls flag football will play in a tournament like last year and will not be awarded the Blue Map until the 2024 championship game. 

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“This is great news for our girls’ student-athletes,” Briggs said in a press release. “The growth we have seen in both sports has been amazing in a very short time.”

Girls will now have a total of 13 sanctioned sports, one more than boys. As of now, 76 schools in Alabama have girls wrestling, and 89 schools have girls flag football. 

Girls flag football in Alabama owes a lot of its growth to the NFL, mainly the Atlanta Falcons. 

The league has helped to boost the sport in Alabama. Currently, Valley High School is the only flag football team in Chambers County. 

Head Coach Fern Piper believes that sanctioning girls flag football will open more avenues for girls to play the sport at the collegiate level. 

“I think it’s going to allow more openings for the athletes to grow as far as women’s sports in college athletics for their futures,” Piper said. “It’s going to allow them to have more scholarship opportunities… It’s going to give them something to go on.” 

The sport is still so new at the high school level, and Piper is not yet sure how many more schools could decide to participate. Due to the newness of the sport, several schools have added it and couldn’t field a team because of the lack of participation. This has made it somewhat difficult for current participating schools to finalize their schedules before each season.

Still, the growth of the sport has taken off over the past few years. Many colleges like Point University are starting to field teams. 

The AHSAA also used the annual board meeting to discuss an increase in revenue sharing for member schools this season. 

The AHSAA will return $2.25 million to all member schools this season. 

The revenue sharing will be done as a part of the School Athletics Grants Program. 

The AHSAA began implementing their revenue sharing program 14 years ago. 

In total, this program has given over $23 million back to member schools. 

In addition to the revenue sharing, the AHSAA also waived the membership fees for all schools. 

This is the 32nd consecutive year that the AHSAA has waived membership fees. 

In total, the AHSAA estimates that this saves $85,000 annually for the schools. 

“The $2.25 million returned to our schools is the largest ever, and it is directly attributed to the strong leadership of the Central Board and our member schools,” AHSAA Director Alvin Briggs said in a press release. “We are also extremely proud to waive the schools’ membership fees. The board’s approval of that savings means our schools have not paid membership dues now going on four decades.” 

Some other minor changes were maid on Wednesday involving the playoff schedules for softball and soccer in Alabama. 

This meeting serves as the last board meeting for the AHSAA before the start of the high school season. The board will not meet again until October 17.