TAMPA, Fla. — Young athletes all across the state of Florida are making a name for women in football. And they'll get the chance to show off their skills this week at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Girls Flag Football Preseason Classic.
The fourth annual event is the largest girls flag football tournament in the country, welcoming more than 1,500 high school athletes from nearly 70 teams throughout the state — including 25 from Hillsborough County and 12 from Pinellas County.
Three collegiate flag football teams, Thomas University, Warner University, and Webber International, will also take the field as part of their regular season.
Buccaneers Co-Owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz will kick off the round-robin-style tournament, set for March 3-5 at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus.
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are proud to be at the forefront of supporting gender equality on and off the field by establishing programming and football leagues, creating college scholarships, hosting special events and promoting career development for girls and women," the Buccaneers wrote in a press release.
This isn't the first move the team has made toward gender equality in the sport.
In 2021, the Bucs launched the Women’s Summit for Careers in Football, a program that connects women pursuing NFL careers with high-profile leaders in the organization.
The team also awards the Girls in Football academic scholarship for graduating female high school football players pursuing a career in sports.
In September, Bucs' tight end Rob Gronkowski surprised the four scholarship recipients, including one from Bradenton, with news they won the award.
Another part of the team's initiative is the Jr. Bucs Girls Flag Football League, which covers league fees and equipment for girls at 24 Tampa Parks and Recreation centers.