Gateway looks forward to promising 2nd flag football season

Sunday, April 14, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The foundation bricks for the Gateway girls flag football team were put in place last spring.

Now, the Gators are taking the next steps in their second season.

High school girls flag football in the Pittsburgh area, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Steelers, grew from six teams in the first season two years ago to 17 last year.

Gateway now is one of 36 teams in the league which was to begin regular-season games Sunday (April 14), and Gators coach Haley Adams, a Gateway graduate, says her team is ready to compete.

“We had an awesome first year,” said Adams, who played on the girls basketball team and graduated in 2011.

“We started out thinking we would only have 10 girls and we ended up having 36. We split them up into two teams. I was coaching four games every Sunday. This year, we decided to do it a little differently where we have both JV and varsity teams. The girls continue to respond to getting the plays down, understanding the concepts and being really competitive. They are starting to come into their own.”

Gateway, led by captains in seniors Katie Morris and Maia Jones and juniors Kaitlyn Karpuszka and KC Glaze, hosted eight teams for a scrimmage April 7, at Antimarino Stadium, and they tested themselves in game action against Greensburg Salem and McKeesport.

“We had two pick-6s, we played good defense, and the girls communicated really well,” Adams said.

“The girls looked really comfortable out there.”

“We’ve grown a lot since last year, especially with the freshmen coming up,” Morris said.

“For me, it was nice to come back with that year of experience to be able to help the new girls. I have a nice relationship with the coaches, too. We’re always learning about the game and improving our skills. I like what we did in those (scrimmages). I was so proud of the way we played. It was the first ever game for some of the girls. There were some nerves, but they did a great job.”

Jones, also a second-year player, continues to settle in at quarterback.

“Last year was such a great learning experience with what flag football is, the rules of the game, and playing together as a team,” she said.

“This year, we have the opportunity to really show people who we are and what we’ve learned over the past two years. For our first game Sunday, especially with all the new girls, we did a lot of good things. I know this season is going to be a lot of fun.”

Each team in the league will play 10 division games over five weeks through May 12.

Playoff-qualifying teams will meet for a one-day tournament May 19 to decide the league champion.

Gateway was to officially start its season Sunday with a pair of games at Penn Hills High School.

Gateway will travel to Plum this Sunday, April 21, for games against the host Mustangs at 1 p.m. and against Woodland Hills at 2.

Karpuszka, whose athletic background includes volleyball, softball and dance for 13 years, said she really took to flag football when the team began last year.

“I recently quit volleyball to start (flag football) up and have more time for it,” said Karpuszka, who has recovered from a right knee injury suffered last summer in flag football league play with her Gateway teammates at Schenley Park.

“I’ve been interested in sports that are geared more toward boys. I always grew up around boys, my brother and my cousins, and football is in the family. I figured I would give it a shot and see what happens.

“We had so much fun in the first season last spring that we wanted to keep playing through the summer. We ended up winning the whole (summer league) championship, so that was a great thing. We had a lot we wanted to build on coming into this season.”

Adams is joined on the coaching staff by her brother, Steve, a fellow Gateway graduate who played football for the Gators, and Taleisha Royster, a 2017 Brashear grad.

“There are a lot of really athletic girls on this team who play other sports like track, basketball, softball or are active with the cheerleading teams,” Adams said.

“We have a lot of cheerleaders. To go to the games where they are performing, and you see them go from these sweet girls to where you do not want to mess with them on the football field, it is night and day.”

Haley Adams works for NFL Flag Football as its social media coordinator, and she travels all over the country to promote the sport and help it grow.

Flag football was prominent at the NFL’s Pro Bowl Games in late January, and it also is an Olympic sport.

She said girls flag football in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania continues to grow to where it soon could become a sanctioned sport by the PIAA as girls wrestling was nearly a year ago.

“When I found out the Steelers were helping start this league and inviting different high schools, I wanted to find out how we could get Gateway a team,” Haley Adams said.

“I found out that our athletic director (Don Holl) had filed the paperwork. I called him up and asked if they needed a coach, and he said, ‘You’re the coach.’ The rest is history. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the girls have been great. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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