Breaking News: LHS to offer Girls Flag Football This Spring


LHS Freshman Jacob Nevarez

LHS Senior Melina Montalvo plays in a match for the Leominster Flag Football League 17U team.


For more than one hundred years Leominster High School football has built a rich history and tradition of excellence on the gridiron, amassing 800 all-time victories and capturing 12 Super Bowl championships since 1972.

Whether it was Friday Night Lights at historic Doyle field or Thanksgiving Day mornings against arch-rival Fitchburg High School, the sport of football at LHS has been played almost exclusively by boys since its founding in the 19th century.

That’s about to change as LHS will be fielding a Girls Flag Football team for the first time and participating in the inaugural New England Patriots Girls Flag Football League this Spring, a pilot program the 6-time NFL Super Bowl champions hope will be a catalyst for inclusion as a sanctioned Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) sport in the near future.

With the financial backing of the Patriots in the form of a $5,000 grant, uniforms provided by Nike and an equipment grant from USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, the decision to participate in the pilot program was an easy one for LHS Athletic Director David Palazzi.

“As a high school that has over one hundred years of football history and tradition, we are very excited for this pilot program. Any chance that we have to offer our female athletes other opportunities to get involved with athletics we are supportive of,” said Palazzi.

The team will participate in an 8-week regular season starting at the end of April and culminating in a state championship tournament at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, on Friday, June 16.

Palazzi has chosen two LHS alumni to lead the team, head coach Becky Curley (class of ‘99) and assistant coach Eelijah Martinez (class of ‘19).

Curley has been coaching flag football in the Leominster Flag Football League (LFFL) since 2016 and recently led the league’s 12u Boys to a 3rd place finish nationally at the NFL FLAG Championships in Las Vegas.

However, Curley’s ties to Leominster football date back for generations.

“If you know her grandfather and what he meant to Leominster football and the impact he had then you would know that Becky is the clear choice to lead this program. I couldn’t think of a better person male or female for the job,” Palazzi said about choosing Curley for the role of head coach.

Martinez, the LFFL President, has been coaching the LFFL’s 17u Girls team since 2020, leading the team to three straight appearances at NFL FLAG Nationals.

For Curley the opportunity to be the first girls flag football head coach at LHS is a dream come true.

“I grew up in a football family and have been around Leominster football my whole life. Football has always been considered a boy’s sport and thanks to the Patriots and Coach Palazzi, girls will now have the opportunity to play for Leominster High School and to build their own legacy within the sport. I can’t wait to get started,” said Curley.

With the team in good hands and high schools across the state lining up to participate in the program, Palazzi believes the future is bright for girl’s flag football.

“There is a lot of interest in the program and I think it’s going to be a huge success not only for the girls of Leominster but for girls all over Massachusetts,” stated Palazzi.

LHS sophomore Jaliany Hiciano has been playing flag football for nine years and the veteran player is excited about what this opportunity will do for her and future generations.

“I think this league will get a lot more girls playing the game and I’m excited that I’ll get the opportunity to play the sport that I love at the high school level,” explained Jaliany.

As one of the only communities in the state with an existing youth girls flag football program, and experienced players like Jaliany, there’s reason to believe the LHS girls are well-positioned for early success.

“Leominster is a community that has high expectations for its football program and the girls flag football team will be no different. We will work hard to represent Leominster and make the high school and community proud,” added Curley.

Over the past century the LHS football program has walked a thousand miles and later this month the girls of LHS will begin their football journey with a single, historic, step.


This story was originally published on The Devil’s Advocate on March 17, 2023.