In the summer of 2020, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that women’s flag football would become a sanctioned sport within the division, with 15 schools committed to hosting the first league in the spring of 2021. Since then, these coaches have been working to build their flag football programs, creating a solid foundation for their teams. As they establish their recruiting strategies, they’re looking for student-athletes who are interested in being a part of the first flag football programs in history, have the fundamental skill set to succeed in a college setting, and are leaders both on the field and in the classroom.
While flag football coaches have turned to high school and club teams to scout student-athletes, they’re also discovering recruits virtually. That’s why it’s important for families who are interested in playing flag football in college to create a strategic recruiting plan to properly market themselves to coaches.
The first step? Thoroughly research the 15 schools that offer women’s flag football to create a target list. Then, student-athletes should create a highlight video and email it to college coaches, so that coaches can conduct an initial evaluation of their skill set and provide feedback. This is especially important in flag football where there are only four states with high school teams, and most of the NAIA colleges offering flag football are located within the Midwest and southern states. In other words, highlight videos create an opportunity for players across the country to showcase their skills to college coaches, get on their radar and effectively secure a second, more in-depth evaluation.
While coaches are still nailing down their 2021 schedules, it’s essential to closely following these programs to learn more about camp and showcase opportunities as they arise. Plus, you can also stay up-to-date on the current team’s roster and rankings as they kick off the first ever college flag football league!
Unlike the NCAA, the NAIA doesn’t enforce specific recruiting rules and calendars. NAIA coaches can reach out to student-athletes at any point during high school. However, they typically don’t recruit underclassmen, and instead turn their attention to athletes during their junior year and well into senior year, too. To compete on any NAIA college team, though, all athletes must meet the academic standards set by the NAIA Eligibility Center, which factors in a minimum GPA and standardized test score.
Every college coach has their own list of requirements they look for when scouting student-athletes. And as they create the foundation for their newly developed flag football programs, their recruiting needs will change. Even so, there’s a baseline of skills required to play NAIA flag football. This section breaks down the fundamental skills needed in every position.
There are 15 NAIA schools that offer women’s flag football, and each of them awards athletic scholarships to student-athletes. Specifically, coaches have a stipend of $15,000 that they can distribute to players on the team. Additionally, student-athletes supplement athletic aid with academic scholarships, grants and need-based aid to create competitive financial packages. With each of the NAIA flag football colleges being private institutions, they tend to have the additional scholarship and aid opportunities readily available.
With the first season of NAIA flag football kicking off in the spring of 2021, college coaches are continuously establishing their recruiting strategies and methods. There are only four states in the country where flag football is a sanctioned girl’s high school sport, so coaches are also turning to club leagues, such as NFL FLAG, to find interested prospects. But more than anything, coaches are finding new talent because the student-athlete personally reached out to the coach and sent them their recruiting profile and highlight video. We can’t reiterate this enough: if you want to get recruited for college flag football, you need to proactively fill out recruiting questionnaires online and personally reach out to college coaches via email (or phone!) to establish relationships and receive feedback.
Highlight videos are essential in the flag football recruiting process. There are only 15 NAIA colleges that offer flag football. Coaches simply don’t have the time or budget to see every recruit play in person. Therefore, they need to conduct initial evaluations online—and that’s where highlight videos come in handy. An effective, well-crafted highlight video can secure a second, more in-depth evaluation. This section breaks down how to make a highlight video and what skills to showcase in every position.
As the first year of NAIA flag football is underway, flag football camps, as well as showcases and tournaments, will become an important recruiting tool for college coaches. They will invite top prospects to their camp and evaluate athletes there. For student-athletes, camps are a great way to determine how you measure up against other recruits, learn the training style of the coach, view the campus and facilities, and play in front of coaches.
There are 15 NAIA colleges that offer women’s flag football, with most of them located in the Midwest or southern states. While all of the NAIA colleges are private schools, they range in student population, from 350 students to over 16,000. Even though there are limited options, each school and flag football program offers a unique experience to its student-athletes. It’s important for families to understand the qualifications and differences among the schools, so that they can best decide which school is right for them.