Sumpter ready to lead LaGrange College flag football for its inaugural season

Published 5:15 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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There is no stopping the growth of women’s flag football right now. It is a sport that has found its way into the high school, collegiate and even professional ranks. LaGrange College is getting in on the act as well with the inaugural flag football season set to start next spring and the Panthers already know who will be leading the team onto the field for the first time as the school announced Breana Sumpter as the first flag football head coach in school history.

“I saw the opportunity listed on the internet, and I hesitated at first, I read it and kind of thought about it, but as the season went on, it just kind of weighed heavy on me. So, I finally just kind of bit the bullet, and applied and a few months later, I heard back from the athletic director, and it all just kind of fell in place from there,” Sumpter said. “It is a budding sport. When I was younger my only opportunities in flag football would be the powderpuff game at the end of your senior year in high school, and then I did a little flag football in college. The sport has changed so much in these last three to five years.”

Sumpter is no spring chicken when it comes to building a program from scratch. She was a key member in helping establish the flag football program at Benjamin E. Mays in 2021. She served as an assistant coach in her first season before taking over as head coach for the following two seasons. Seven of her players won individual region awards in flag football, including Player of the Year honors. Now, she hopes to translate that success to the collegiate level.

“I would try to get girls all the opportunities that I could. I will take them to clinics, I will take them to prospect days. I remember the first you know, that first year, we didn’t win a game, but at the end, one of our players signed a contract to go play flag football in college,” Sumpter said.

Being a flag football coach at the collegiate level was not something big that was on Sumpter’s radar just a few short years ago. She ended up falling in love with the sport and coaching it which has led her to where she is today.

“I never would have thought I would be in this position, but that also kind of plays to my overall experiences,” Sumpter said. “You can’t determine so far down the road where are going to be. You just have to be present in the moment and work towards every opportunity that comes your way.

“I think from the first year, I really fell in love with the sport.”

Year one will have some growing pains. Sumpter will not officially start her duties until July, so her assistant coach is handling recruiting and setting everything up in the meantime. Sumpter does not just want to field a team full of athletes, she wants to bring in flag football players.

“Right now at high school, I only get the players who decide ‘I want to try out, or I want to try this thing for fun, or maybe I’ll be good at it.’ At the collegiate level, I think there’s a different level of intensity that will match who I am as a coach.”

It will not be long now before LaGrange College has a full roster of flag football players and coaches on campus. With Sumpter in charge, there is a real sense of optimism about where the program can go in the next several years.

“We are thrilled to have Breana pilot our flag football program in its inaugural season,” said Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Terlynn Olds. “She has a proven track record of success on the field, and we are confident she has the skills to build one of our newest sports into a championship program. “As a coach, she has helped players achieve regional awards. As an educator, she also understands the importance of academics to the Panther student-athlete experience.”