Alonso and Robinson are widely recognized throughout Florida as flag football juggernauts. After all, they have a combined seven state titles in the past six years.
Now, the two powerhouse programs are receiving national recognition.
On Tuesday, Nike unveiled a new ad campaign to promote flag football. The shoe company and the NFL have pledged $5-million in hopes of turning the game into a national varsity sport. The push includes a commercial featuring Alonso and Robinson that is scheduled to start airing on the NFL Network on Wednesday.
The teams spent 13 hours filming the spot at Alonso on Jan. 10.
The connection Alonso and Robinson have with Nike started in the summer of 2019. The company wanted the schools to be their flagship programs in an effort to make girls flag football a high school sport in all 50 states.
“We did that last year and (Nike) came down to Tampa for the preseason event at the Bucs to check us out and see all the fantastic gear that they put the girls in,” Knights coach Josh Saunders said. “They did a lot of cool things for them during the pandemic, as well”
Each team received roughly $22,000 in gear, including cleats and uniforms.
In December of last year, Saunders said Nike wanted to the two schools to be a part of a commercial.
This is not the first time Robinson’s flag football program has had the national stage.
In November, Knights running back Adrianna Williams got to break down game tape with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett as part of the NFL’s Next Generation series. The segment aired on ESPN before the Buccaneers’ Monday Night Football game with the New York Giants.
Last week, Alonso and Robinson represented the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation at the NFL Flag Bowl.
Flag football is currently sanctioned in state associations in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and New York.
But the sport is growing — not just at the high school level but also in college.
In May, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced a partnership with the NFL and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX) to put together the first women’s flag football competition governed by a collegiate athletics association.
The plan is to increase participation at the college level through showcases that started this past summer. Competition guidelines will be outlined for colleges interested in starting a program with the first competitive season to be held this year and the first emerging sport or invitational championship in the spring of the following year.
An emerging sport at the NAIA level must have at least 15 participating schools and invitational status needs at least 25. A sport also is required to have 40 schools involved to be considered for full championship status.
There currently are 11 state colleges that compete at the NAIA level, most of which have already added flag football.
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