By Malcolm Butler
It was the perfect night for a powder puff football game.
Cold. Wet. Muddy.
About 60 high school girls at Cedar Creek School divided up into four teams based on classification and overcame the elements in order to raise money for a good cause.
“It is a fundraiser that was put on by DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), one of our clubs on campus,” said Hope Merchant, Director of Development at Cedar Creek. “It’s a national organization designed for kids who think they might have an interest in the area of business when they graduate, areas such as entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, hospitality and so forth.
“Every year we go to the state conference in the early spring which is usually in Baton Rouge. We try to fund as much of it as possible so it isn’t so expensive for the kids. We want to raise as much money as possible in order to help with the expenses.
“Last year we had several kids qualify for nationals in Disney World. Having that extra money really helps with the expense. This year its at Disney Land in Anaheim. It usually will go towards travel expenses and dress attire. It just helps pay for some of those costs.”
Although Merchant said they try to raise money for the club every year, this was the inaugural year for the flag football game.
“This was our first year to do the power puff game,” said Merchant. “It was fabulous. I’m not sure how much money we were able to raise, but I think it was a great night. I was pleasantly surprised considering how yucky the weather was … there were lots of people that came out and watched. It meant a lot to those kids to have all of those people there.”
As the cold drizzle steadily fell from the skies under the lights at Cougar Field at Origin Bank Stadium, two games consisting of two 10-minute halves unfolded on each end of the field. The opening round featured Team Freshmen vs. Team Seniors and Team Sophomores vs. Team Juniors.
While the girls showed off their football skills, some of the Cougar players served as coaches while others served as … well, some version of cheerleaders and dance team. A good time seemed to be had by all.
“I enjoyed getting to see what Friday nights are like when I’m not cheering and what it is like actually playing on the field,” said sophomore cheerleader Emma Phillips. “I have a new appreciation for our football team. I can see how stressful games can be at times. I have a new respect for how hard they work.”
Team Freshman pulled off the first upset of the night, defeating the veteran upperclassmen in a close contest on the east end of Cougar Field. Team Senior head coach Gray Worthey pinpointed the issue in his team’s loss.
“It would probably be our offensive coordinator, Ladd Thompson,” joked Worthey. “Wait, don’t print that. No, I’m kidding. We will blame it on the conditions. It was raining. The freshman had one girl (Mary Grace Hawkins) who was a real athlete. We tried to get a spy on her, but we couldn’t contain her.”
Regardless of the conditions or the reasons, the high school rookies overcame the elements and the odds to move on to the championship game.
Meanwhile on the west side of the stadium, Team Juniors was putting it on Team Sophomores in a bit of a blowout.
“It was fun getting to enjoy a good game of flag football with my friends even though we got our butts kicked,” said sophomore Emerald Entertainer Addison Taylor. “I would say the most difficult part was getting open on offense.”
Following the first round results, the championship game was set between Team Freshmen vs. Team Juniors while the consolation game pitted Team Sophomores vs. Team Seniors.
As all eyes focused on the title match-up, once again the youngsters prevailed as Team Freshmen defeated Team Juniors by a couple of touchdowns to claim the championship title.
“The freshmen just knew they were going to lose when they found out they were playing the seniors,” said Merchant. “I was proud of them. They got really aggressive.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Worthey. “I’m sad we didn’t get to do it all four years, but better late than never. It was really competitive. I wasn’t expecting it to be that way. The girls weren’t playing around.”
So will this be a one-year wonder? Or will the members of the title team get a chance to defend next year when they comprise Team Sophomores?
“I had a parent come up to me at the end and say, ‘Please tell me you will do this every year,'” said Merchant. “‘I have never seen my kid participate in something like this. She really stepped out of her comfort zone and she loved it.’
“So I definitely think we will do it again next year.”