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New Jersey state champion girls flag football team celebrates victory with free trip to Orlando

New Jersey state champion girls flag football team celebrates victory
New Jersey state champion girls flag football team celebrates victory 03:16

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- This weekend, the Ridgewood girls flag football team has been gifted a trip to Orlando to watch the national flag football championship at the Pro Bowl.

It's a culmination of a championship season for a group of trailblazers.

It's a familiar high school scene -- laughter and animated conversations fill the air -- but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear the lively banter revolves around football.

As they recount thrilling plays and hard-fought victories, it becomes evident that football has become a shared purpose among these teens.

"Football is usually like men playing tackle football. When you start talking about us being really good at flag football, that definitely does bring out some more excitement in a lot of people," quarterback Jasmine Conners said.

A testament to the unbreakable bond they've forged through their love for the game.

"My dad would always throw the ball with me in the backyard. I can always remember when I was younger, I would just make my dad throw the ball back and forth and I would just run routes," receiver Alysha Arora said.

When the Jets hosted the third annual High School Girls Flag Football League, Ridgewood arrived focused. Last year's playoff loss was seared into their memories. This time, it was much different.

Facing the team that knocked them out last year, Ridgewood's undefeated season culminated in a dominating championship win. The final score was Ridgewood 47, Hillside 6.

The celebration continues. The team was gifted a free trip to Orlando during Pro Bowl weekend to watch the flag football championships.

"They're just so excited. This is all they talk about -- who they're gonna room with, what we're gonna do, what rides we're going on. It is non-stop, 24/7 excitement," head coach Mickey McDermott said. "This journey has been one of the best of my life ... Empowering women across the United States to just pursue their goals and dreams and just basically show that females can to the same exact things as males can do."

Football is more than just a pastime. It's a conduit through which they discovered their strength and resilience, the value of teamwork and perseverance -- qualities that will serve them well in life as they inspire others.

"I just want them to see someone they can look up to," receiver/pass rusher Ally Zegarra said.

"Being able to pave the way for more young female athletes definitely makes a huge difference. This sport is going to go very far and this team definitely had a big contribution to it," Alysha said.

There were 83 New Jersey schools with a girls flag football program last year. There's been so much interest, New Jersey is turning it into a pilot sport for the next two years before officially sanctioning it as a varsity sport.

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