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Jilian Denlow

This is the first year of the ETHS girls flag football team.

The newest sport at ETHS: Girls flag football to kick off this fall

In 2003, Lisa Cole founded the Chicago Force, the city’s first professional women’s tackle football team. Over a decade ago, ETHS PE teacher Luella “Lue” Gesky was a defensive lineman for the Force, breaking barriers and defying stereotypes in the male-dominated sport.

Last spring, Gesky was presented with a unique opportunity: to take on the role as the head coach of ETHS’ first girls flag football team.

“I played tackle football for four years ,and at that time, there was little recognition of women’s sports,” Gesky says. “Society has since shown increased interest in female athletes and I love being able to support this continued growth.”

As head coach, Gesky is excited to set the tone for the inaugural program.

“This is my first time being involved with a new team,” Gesky says. “I hope that my attitude and values can be fostered in my players: hard work and the love of honest competition. It’s not a win at all costs, but if you play your best and respect your opponents, success will come.”

Through Bears Care, the Chicago Bears helped launch a girls flag football league in 2021 with support from Nike and other brands. While the league began with 22 teams in CPS as the Chicago Public League Girls Flag Football, it has since expanded into the suburbs. ETHS and the broader Evanston community is proud to be part of this movement.

“Athletes who participate in this program will be going down in history,” Gesky said. “There is a chance for girls to be on the front of this wave and once it passes, they’ll always be able to say that they were on the first ETHS girls flag football team.”

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