Falcons nominate first female flag football coach for Don Shula Award

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The Atlanta Falcons have been at the forefront to help develop women’s flag football from the start. Another important step to help close the gender equality gap in high school sports has been taken.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, the Falcons announced Zach Corcoran, the head coach of St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School’s women’s flag football program, as their 2021 high school coach of the year. Not only is this the first time Atlanta has named a women’s flag football coach for this award, it’s also a first in the history of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award.

The Falcons became the first team in league history to win the Don Shula Award in consecutive years, naming the eventual winner in 2019 and 2020. If Corcoran wins the overall award, it would be yet another historic moment for the Falcons. and the development of flag football in the state of Georgia.

In 2018, the team fully funded the state’s first-ever women’s flag football pilot program, which took place in all 19 high schools in Gwinnett County. The following year, five additional counties followed Gwinnett’s lead and established women’s soccer programs with the help of the Falcons.

The success of these pilot programs eventually led the Georgia High School Association to sanction women’s flag soccer as an official sport in 2020.

Corcoran has been an advocate for sport development in his own right. After attending Georgia Southern University for her undergraduate studies, Corcoran earned her master’s degree in teaching at Columbus State University. He returned to his alma mater in 2017 as a women’s high school football coach and began pushing for a women’s flag football team at St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School once the state sanctioned as an official sport.

While in the midst of a pandemic, Corcoran helped start his school’s flag football team. Under his leadership, the team went 6-3-1 and won a regional championship in its first season.

Corcoran built on that strong start with an even better season in 2021. The Lady Vikings went downhill in their competition and went 14-2. St. Anne-Pacelli repeated as regional champion and made an appearance in the GHSA State Semifinals.

“To find someone as passionate as he is about teaching and coaching sports, he is truly special,” St. Anne-Pacelli athletic director Corry Black said, according to a press release from the team. “It’s just a gem. You can’t find someone who does what they do.

The Falcons hope to continue the growth of women’s flag football in the state of Georgia and seek to spur similar growth across the country. Coaches like Corcoran, who see the benefits of equality in sports at the high school level, are key to bringing about this change at the grassroots level.

His leadership inspired one of his students to start her own youth flag football camp – perhaps the budding coach’s tree. Not only did Corcoran help make this camp a success, but the entire Lady Vikings roster volunteered to help run the show.

“He shows leadership and honestly, he’s just a genuine, complete person who is loved by everyone,” assistant coach Matt Aldrich said. “I don’t know anyone who has anything bad to say about Coach Corcoran.”

Corcoran’s impact goes far beyond the football field. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he hosted a virtual field day to encourage his students — and their families — to get out of the house and get some exercise. Following their coach’s lead, the Lady Vikings accompanied Corcoran to volunteer and distributed food to needy families at the Columbus Food Bank and Assistance Center.

This is just one example of the example that Coach Corcoran sets for his athletes, who are also actively involved in campus initiatives.

This isn’t the first time Corcoran has used flag football to make the world a better place. More than a decade ago, he founded the Turkey Bowl, an annual flag football tournament that raises money to help local charities. The Turkey Bowl is still up and waddling, and Corcoran both played on a team last year and refereed some of the games. Oh, he also directed everything.

If the girls are going to continue to have the opportunity to play on the grill, it will take a lot more people like Coach Corcoran. The Falcons do their best to continue to spread awareness of the progress of the sport in their own state, but they also encourage other teams to become leaders in their local communities.

Georgia has become the fourth state to officially sanction women’s flag football at the high school level, but the Falcons aren’t happy settle down with the progress they have made. Last year, the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association held its first-ever women’s flag football final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“We are thrilled to host the first NAIA Women’s Flag Football Finals and the presentation of the NAIA Flag at Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said. said the team’s website at the time. Our organization has seen the appetite and enthusiasm for women’s flag football at the high school level in Georgia and Alabama, and we’re excited to see it grow at the college level as well.

By nominating Corcoran as the Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Year and making him their candidate for Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year, the team sends a clear message that flag football deserves the same consideration. than tackle football.

In Corcoran, they couldn’t have had a better lawyer.

“He’s the most honest, trustworthy guy I’ve ever known,” Aldrich said. “He’s the reason I coach women’s flag football. He helped me transition to St. Anne-Pacelli and really showed me how the sport works.

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