A sophomore from Wake County played a significant role in initiating the flag football league, which has gained attention in the local community.
Coco Lavielle is a passionate follower of football. Upon beginning her journey in flag football, she immediately developed a strong bond with the sport.
She expressed that her love for it began when she would play with her friends at the nearby field. As she delved deeper into it, she began watching videos and declared, “I have a strong desire to participate in this activity.”
When Coco entered Apex High School, she noticed that flag football was not a recognized sport and there was no effort to change that. She took it upon herself to make a change.
Coco and her family began coordinating with the athletic director, Rob Widenburner, at her home school. The coach, known as Coach W, quickly showed support for the plan.
Coco remembered, “We began conversing with the athletic director and coach W, and he agreed, ‘Yes, let’s get this show on the road’.”
Weidenburner got in contact with Wake County athletic director Deran Coe, who also was quickly on board. The pair played a role in getting the Carolina Panthers involved.
The NFL has been heavily promoting the implementation of girls’ flag football across the nation (and globally). The Panthers are strong advocates for this larger goal.
Coco reached out to the Panthers to express interest in starting a flag football program in the area. The team was happy to lead the initiative in Wake County.
The Panthers were pleased with Lavielle’s determination to persist in pursuit of her desires. The team invited Coco to serve as the honorary Keep Pounding Drummer during a preseason game at home in August.
The school system received a $50,000 grant from the Carolina Panthers to kickstart the league. The grant covered the necessary resources, including equipment, to get the league up and running. On January 11th, the Panthers held a special launch event for the inaugural flag football season. The first games were played on January 27th.
When the moment arrived for Lavielle to witness her efforts come to fruition, she was amazed.
Last weekend and this weekend, when I walked onto the field, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening. It was a moment of realization that I had initiated this and I am grateful for all the support I received.
The football field at Athens Drive was split into three sections for the tournament. Twelve teams participated with a lively spirit throughout the day. It seemed like the largest school district in the state was well-suited for this new and exciting sport.
Lavielle’s love for the sport appears to have influenced the entire Apex flag program. While they have a strong system in place, the girls’ camaraderie and enjoyment of playing together is what truly stands out.
Coco mentioned that Apex has exceptional athletes, but she believes that our strong team camaraderie and close-knit dynamic is what brings us together for every game.
Apex will be competing in the SupHER Bowl Championship on Saturday with an unblemished 5-0 record. The Cougars hold the No. 2 spot in the HighSchoolOT rankings for flag football.
The achievements of the team and the overall league have generated a lot of excitement in the Apex community and in Coco’s personal life.
“I am receiving messages and phone calls. People approach me asking when the next powder puff game or flag football game will be,” she expressed. “I really enjoy that.”