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Atlanta Falcons help Lockwood prepare for inaugural girls flag football season

BILLINGS- Last year, the Atlanta Falcons launched the first season of a girls’ flag football pilot program in Montana. Butte, Kalispell Flathead and Kalispell Glacier were the first three schools to compete. 

“We were able to grow girls flag football in Georgia, Alabama and help it grow nationwide and said why not bring it to Montana?” said Amanda Dinkel, Director of Community Relations, for the Atlanta Falcons. 

This season, two more have joined the fold, St. Ignatius and Lockwood. Lockwood will be coached by Beau Malia, who is also the head wrestling coach for the Lions. 

On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons were in Lockwood to put on a free flag football clinic for middle school and high school girls, as the Lions prepare for their inaugural season.  

So, why the Falcons? Atlanta Falcons NFL Owner Arthur Blank owns a good chunk of land and businesses in the Treasure State, and simply put, loves Montana. Part of his way of giving back is growing flag football statewide. 

“The Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation have been providing financial grants to the schools participating to help reduce the barrier of cost to participate and that’s something we will continue to do here and have been over the last few years,” Dinkel said. 

Thursday’s group introduced the game to a group of young women in Lockwood, most of whom had never played flag football before. 

“I grew up with brothers, I’m the only girl, and I’ve always wanted to play football, but it was only for boys. So, it’s giving me a chance to play now so I like it,” said Lockwood senior Lawren Decrane 

Seven states now offer girls flag football as a sanctioned high school sport. That’s the ultimate goal for the Falcons and NFL Flag in Montana. 

“Everyone has the idea that football is only for guys, trust me if you come to one of our NFL Flag tournaments, the girls are here to play. They’re not here to just be involved, they’re there to compete. They’re there to win championships, they’re there to fall on the ground, bleed, sweat, I’ve seen them cry. They’re into it, more emotional and to be honest with you, they’re a lot easier to coach than the guys,” said NFL Flag Ambassador Ramon Nunez aka ‘Coach Monchi.’ 

These student athletes at Lockwood are no strangers to making history. As a new school, each year the Lions have a chance to leave a lasting legacy, and their inaugural flag football season this fall will provide a chance to do just that. 

“It means a lot because Lockwood is just starting out and this is new to us, so I think we’ll go far in it,” said Lockwood freshman Evelyn Arciga. 

The Atlanta Falcons will also be hosting camps on Friday in Box Elder and on Saturday in Missoula. 

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