The NFL’s Women Officiating Now (W.O.N.) Initiative has officially launched. This program is aimed at educating women on officiating and exposing them to officiating as a way of staying connected to the game, earning extra money and becoming leaders in the community.
The first phase of the program kicked off early this summer at College of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY soccer field at an event that emphasized life skills, officiating techniques and individual drills set up at stations across the playing field. Members and players of the New York Sharks hosted the program in drills and life skills sessions. The New York Sharks are a women’s American football team playing in New York City. As members of the Women’s Football Alliance, they have the longest running and winningest team record in women’s football history. Girls ages 12-17 participated in the event, and several female officials were present to share their experience, give advice and referee the flag football game.
The young women who participated had determination written all over their faces as they participated in the event. There were young ladies that just wanted to keep trying and trying until they got it right. Vanessa Streater, NFL Program Coordinator and Terell Canton NFL Program Manager headed this instructional session on officiating and what to expect from the W.O.N. program. They engaged the girls in conversation on their thoughts, aspirations, and feedback regarding the Women Officiating Now program. It was encouraging and enlightening to hear the type of career goals and future thoughts going through these girls’ minds. In between drills the girls would come together for discussion and Q and A. New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley stopped by to speak with attendees and answer the girls questions based on his experience. NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino was also available to talk to the girls about officiating. It was very informative because these ladies did not hold anything back. Their participation in the discussion was interesting and entertaining.
Of course there was time for these girls enjoy lunch. DJ Mo Luv was playing mixes of old and new school music that had everyone in a good mood. The girls came together in the center field for the “Zebra Dance.” The Zebra Dance is a combination of different officiating call signals and trendy dance moves in a fun dance number. The girls were awesome and had so much fun performing.
After the break the girls finished their warm ups and assembled to start their game. The field allowed three games to take place simultaneously with two referees to oversee each. Once that whistle blew, these girls got serious. They were determined and competitive. You had to give it to them and respect their passion. These ladies were up early, practiced their drills, were educated on the rules of the game, exposed to what referees have to consider, and participated in an all-around good game of flag football. The girls made use of all the drills during their flag football game using great cut and passing techniques.
The day ended with these young girls knowing that they are following their dreams and doing what they aspire to do with no obstacles in their way. They displayed courage and pride in what they do. The heart that these girls show gave them more reason to compete and raise the bar on opportunities that will be available to them in the near future.
For more information on Women Officiating now program go to http://www.nflofficiating.com/
For more information on the New York Sharks go to http://www.nysharksfootball.com/