(Not) The First Flag Football Game
The Marblehead/Swampscott girls' tradition started long before 1970. Add to our collection by posting a picture or a comment or sending either to email@example.com
Roll back to when cars with big engines roared over streets and high school varsity sports were commonly known as schoolboy athletics and you'll be back to a time when Marblehead and Swampscott girls played flag football. That would be 1970.
And, we have learned from a reader, that the games go further back in time. Much further back.
In the original story on this annual game we said they played their first game in 1970 but a reader sent us a photo of a powderpuff game from 1958.
That was certainly a time when far fewer girls and women competed on athletic courts and fields.
Since then female athletics have emerged, offering girls and young women a host of sports in which to sharpen their athletic skills, learn to win and lose and be part of a team.
Over the years Marblehead and Swampscott girls have had their one big game on the athletic field.
Girls from various sports teams and girls who may not play on teams join forces for it.
The annual powderpuff/flag football game.
Its popularity endures. Its spirit is electric.
Below are memories from a coach on the home team, Marblehead, in the 1970 contest.
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The 1970 Game
Fred Bowen was one of the MHS coaches at the 1970 MHS/SHS powderpuff football game and he has many memories from that game. MHS won 26-18.
It was played, as he recalls, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 1970 at the Spanish War Veterans Memorial stadium in back of the old high school on Pleasant Street.
1- The admission was to bring a new or used toy to the game. A garage full of toys was distributed to local hospitals and charities for the holidays.
2- Kim Rosenfield - a senior at MHS - was the driving force behind the game. It was her idea, especially to play the game for charity.
3- MHS fell behind 18-6 at the half but rallied in the second half. It was a very exciting game.
4- A safety was a crucial play in the second half. I remember because I was in charge of the MHS defense (the defensive coordinator, if you will) and most of our players did not know what a safety was.
5- Sue Coffey and Carol McIntyre - both MHS seniors - scored 2 touchdowns a piece. I may be wrong about that, but I am pretty sure about the scoring. I am sure that both girls were excellent athletes.
6- The other MHS coaches were Alan Pickman and Andy Lovely. Alan was the head coach. Andy and I were his assistants. I do not remember the names of the SHS coaches.
7- The girls - on both teams - were terrific. Very spirited, but good sports. We practiced for a week before the game on the old field hockey field. I think there are tennis courts in that area now.
8- It was 1970, two years before Title IX, the law that required schools to give girls equal opportunities to play sports. Girls at that time did not have many chances to play school sports. So the girls were very enthusiastic about playing. In some small way, the game reflected the emerging consciousness of women at that time.
9- My memory is that we got a surprisingly good crowd. As I said, we collected a lot of toys.
10- After the game, the girls had a party for just the team members and the coaches at Kim Rosenfield's house. There, the players hatched idea of "taking over" the water fountain in front of the principal's office. The spot was a favorite hangout for the school's male athletes between classes. As I said, the game reflected the emerging consciousness of women at that time.
11- Sure enough, the girls did just that on Monday morning. They basically challenged the boys and said: we won our game now let's see you guys win yours!
12- I think MHS lost the Thanksgiving Day game that year. SHS had excellent football teams in those years.
13- The game is one of my fondest memories of high school. It was something very different, created by the kids and for a good purpose.
14- Many years ago, I wrote a letter to the Reporter after I had heard the game was being used, for the most part, to finance the respective Senior class proms. In the letter, I explained the original charitable purposes of the game and expressed the hope it would return to those charitable purposes. I am told the money from the sale of tickets to the MHS/SHS powderpuff game is now donated to a charity chosen by the home team. That is wonderful news and a credit to the kids at both schools!
But in any event, Go Magicians!