2022 NWSL schedule announced, regular season begins April 29

NWSL player Trinity Rodman of the Washington Spirit
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The wait is over. On Wednesday, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced the full schedule for the 2022 NWSL regular season.

When does the 2022 NWSL season start?

The NWSL’s 10th season begins with the third annual Challenge Cup, which serves as a preseason tournament. The Challenge Cup begins on Saturday, March 19 and will end on Saturday, May 7.

There will be some overlap between the Challenge Cup and the regular NWSL season, which begins on Friday, April 29. As it stands now, six NWSL teams are currently slated to play regular season games on May 7, the same day as the Challenge Cup Final. The NWSL did not immediately return a request for comment about a potential contingency/priority plan if any of those six teams (North Carolina, Portland, Chicago, Washington, San Diego, and NJ/NY) qualify for the Challenge Cup Final. A spokesperson for the San Diego Wave said the Challenge Cup Final would take priority and the regular season game would be rescheduled.

The 2022 NWSL season will feature a 22-game regular season, with each of the league’s 12 teams playing both a home and away game against every other club. The regular season will run until Sunday, October 2.

The top six teams will qualify for the NWSL Playoffs. The 2022 NWSL Championship Final is slated for the weekend of October 28, 2022.

2022 NWSL Schedule – All Regular Season Games

Date Home Team Away Team Stadium Time (ET)
Friday, April 29 Angel City FC North Carolina Courage Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 30 Portland Thorns FC Kansas City Current Providence Park 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 30 Chicago Red Stars Racing Louisville FC SeatGeek Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1 Washington Spirit OL Reign Audi Field 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1 Houston Dash San Diego Wave FC PNC Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1 Orlando Pride NJ/NY Gotham FC Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 4 Challenge Cup Semifinal #1 (Details TBD)
Wednesday, May 4 Challenge Cup Semifinal #2 (Details TBD)
Saturday, May 7 Challenge Cup Final (Details TBD)
Saturday, May 7 North Carolina Courage Portland Thorns FC Wakemed Soccer Park 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 7 Chicago Red Stars Washington Spirit SeatGeek Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 7 San Diego Wave FC NJ/NY Gotham FC Torero Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8 Kansas City Current Houston Dash Children’s Mercy Park 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8 OL Reign Racing Louisville FC Lumen Field 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8 Angel City FC Orlando Pride Banc of California Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 13 Portland Thorns FC OL Reign Providence Park 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 14 Orlando Pride Kansas City Current Exploria Stadium 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 14 NJ/NY Gotham FC North Carolina Courage Red Bull Arena 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 14 Racing Louisville FC Houston Dash Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 15 San Diego Wave FC Chicago Red Stars Torero Stadium 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 15 Washington Spirit Angel City FC Audi Field 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18 North Carolina Courage Orlando Pride Wakemed Soccer Park 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18 Racing Louisville FC San Diego Wave FC Lynn Family Stadium 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18 Portland Thorns FC Washington Spirit Providence Park 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 21 Portland Thorns FC Houston Dash Providence Park 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 21 Angel City FC Kansas City Current Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 22 North Carolina Courage San Diego Wave FC Wakemed Soccer Park 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22 NJ/NY Gotham FC Racing Louisville FC Red Bull Arena 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22 OL Reign Washington Spirit Lumen Field 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22 Orlando Pride Chicago Red Stars Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 25 OL Reign Kansas City Current Lumen Field 10:00 p.m.
Friday, May 27 Orlando Pride Washington Spirit Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 28 Chicago Red Stars Portland Thorns FC SeatGeek Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29 OL Reign San Diego Wave FC Lumen Field 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29 Houston Dash North Carolina Courage PNC Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29 Angel City FC NJ/NY Gotham FC Banc of California Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Monday, May 30 Kansas City Current Racing Louisville FC Children’s Mercy Park 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, June 1 Washington Spirit Chicago Red Stars Segra 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 3 Houston Dash Orlando Pride PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Friday, June 3 Portland Thorns FC Angel City FC Providence Park 10:30 p.m
Saturday, June 4 Chicago Red Stars OL Reign SeatGeek Stadium 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 NJ/NY Gotham FC Washington Spirit Red Bull Arena 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 Kansas City Current San Diego Wave FC Children’s Mercy Park 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 Racing Louisville FC North Carolina Courage Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, June 8 San Diego Wave FC Portland Thorns FC Torero Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 11 Washington Spirit North Carolina Courage Segra 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 11 Kansas City Current NJ/NY Gotham FC Children’s Mercy Park 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 11 Racing Louisville FC Angel City FC Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 12 Chicago Red Stars Orlando Pride SeatGeek Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 12 Houston Dash Portland Thorns FC PNC Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 12 San Diego Wave FC OL Reign Torero Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, June 15 Angel City FC Houston Dash Banc of California Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Friday, June 17 Washington Spirit Racing Louisville FC Segra 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 18 Kansas City Current Chicago Red Stars Children’s Mercy Park 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 18 OL Reign Angel City FC Lumen Field 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 19 Portland Thorns FC Orlando Pride Providence Park 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 19 NJ/NY Gotham FC San Diego Wave FC Red Bull Arena 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 19 North Carolina Courage Houston Dash Wakemed Soccer Park 5:00 p.m.
Friday, July 1 OL Reign North Carolina Courage Lumen Field 10:00 p.m.
Friday, July 1 Angel City FC Portland Thorns FC Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Friday, July 1 Houston Dash Kansas City Current PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 2 Orlando Pride Racing Louisville FC Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 2 NJ/NY Gotham FC Chicago Red Stars Red Bull Arena 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 3 San Diego Wave FC Washington Spirit Torero Stadium 5:00 p.m.
Friday, July 8 Orlando Pride Houston Dash Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Friday, July 8 Racing Louisville FC NJ/NY Gotham FC Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 9 Angel City FC San Diego Wave FC Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 10 Washington Spirit Kansas City Current Segra 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 10 Chicago Red Stars North Carolina Courage SeatGeek Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 10 OL Reign Portland Thorns FC Lumen Field 6:00 p.m.
Friday, July 15 North Carolina Courage Angel City FC Wakemed Soccer Park 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 15 San Diego Wave FC Racing Louisville FC Torero Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 Houston Dash Chicago Red Stars PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 Portland Thorns FC NJ/NY Gotham FC Providence Park 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 17 Washington Spirit Orlando Pride Audi Field 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 17 Kansas City Current OL Reign Children’s Mercy Park 7:00 p.m.
Friday, July 29 North Carolina Courage Washington Spirit Wakemed Soccer Park 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 29 Racing Louisville FC Portland Thorns FC Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 30 Chicago Red Stars San Diego Wave FC Soldier Field 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 30 Angel City FC OL Reign Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 31 NJ/NY Gotham FC Houston Dash Red Bull Arena 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 31 Kansas City Current Orlando Pride Children’s Mercy Park 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 2 Racing Louisville FC OL Reign Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Friday, August 5 Racing Louisville FC Washington Spirit Lynn Family Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Friday, August 5 Portland Thorns FC North Carolina Courage Providence Park 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 7 San Diego Wave FC Kansas City Current Torero Stadium 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 7 Chicago Red Stars NJ/NY Gotham FC SeatGeek Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 7 OL Reign Houston Dash Lumen Field 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 7 Orlando Pride Angel City FC Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 10 Washington Spirit Portland Thorns FC Segra 7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 12 Houston Dash Racing Louisville FC PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 13 San Diego Wave FC Orlando Pride Torero Stadium 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 13 North Carolina Courage Kansas City Current Wakemed Soccer Park 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 14 OL Reign NJ/NY Gotham FC Lumen Field 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 14 Angel City FC Chicago Red Stars Banc of California Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 17 Houston Dash NJ/NY Gotham FC PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Friday, August 19 Kansas City Current Angel City FC Children’s Mercy Park 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 NJ/NY Gotham FC Orlando Pride TBA 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 North Carolina Courage Chicago Red Stars Wakemed Soccer Park 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 San Diego Wave FC Houston Dash Torero Stadium 10:00 p.m.
Friday, August 26 Orlando Pride OL Reign Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 Racing Louisville FC Chicago Red Stars Lynn Family Stadium 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 Houston Dash Washington Spirit PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 Portland Thorns FC San Diego Wave FC Providence Park 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 28 NJ/NY Gotham FC Angel City FC Red Bull Arena 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 28 Kansas City Current North Carolina Courage Children’s Mercy Park 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 9 OL Reign Chicago Red Stars Lumen Field 10:00 p.m.
Friday, September 9 Orlando Pride Portland Thorns FC Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 10 Washington Spirit San Diego Wave FC Audi Field 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 10 North Carolina Courage Racing Louisville FC Wakemed Soccer Park 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 11 NJ/NY Gotham FC Kansas City Current Red Bull Arena 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 11 Houston Dash Angel City FC PNC Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 14 Chicago Red Stars Kansas City Current SeatGeek Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Friday, September 16 Racing Louisville FC Orlando Pride Lynn Family Stadium 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 17 Washington Spirit NJ/NY Gotham FC Audi Field 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 17 North Carolina Courage OL Reign Wakemed Soccer Park 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 17 Chicago Red Stars Houston Dash SeatGeek Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 17 San Diego Wave FC Angel City FC SnapDragon Stadium 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 18 Kansas City Current Portland Thorns FC Children’s Mercy Park 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21 Portland Thorns FC Racing Louisville FC Providence Park 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21 Angel City FC Washington Spirit Banc of California Stadium 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21 NJ/NY Gotham FC OL Reign Red Bull Arena 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21 Orlando Pride North Carolina Courage Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 24 North Carolina Courage NJ/NY Gotham FC Wakemed Soccer Park 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 24 Houston Dash OL Reign PNC Stadium 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 25 Kansas City Current Washington Spirit Children’s Mercy Park 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 25 Portland Thorns FC Chicago Red Stars Providence Park 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 25 Orlando Pride San Diego Wave FC Exploria Stadium 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 25 Angel City FC Racing Louisville FC Banc of California Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Friday, September 30 San Diego Wave FC North Carolina Courage SnapDragon Stadium 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 1 NJ/NY Gotham FC Portland Thorns FC Red Bull Arena 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 1 Washington Spirit Houston Dash Audi Field 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 1 Racing Louisville FC Kansas City Current Lynn Family Stadium 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 1 OL Reign Orlando Pride Lumen Field 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 2 Chicago Red Stars Angel City FC SeatGeek Stadium 6:00 p.m.

How to Watch NWSL Games

CBS has U.S. broadcast rights of NWSL games. The 2022 NWSL season will air across CBS, CBS Sports Network, and Paramount+ – with the exact TV/platform schedule set to be announced in the coming weeks. Twitch, which provides streaming for fans outside of the United States, will also “stream select games in the United States,” according to an NWSL press release.

Diana Flores looks to break down gender barriers with turn as AFC defensive coordinator in 2023 Pro Bowl

Courtesy Diana Flores
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Diana Flores admits she was surprised when she became a viral sensation last spring, courtesy of a 15-second slow-motion clip showcasing her evasive maneuvers and fancy footwork while leaving at least three defenders in the dirt during Mexico’s 2022 national collegiate flag football championship.

“I never expected someone to record that moment,” said Mexico City native Flores, who led her team – the Monterrey Tech Borregos – to their third consecutive national title as a senior last May. “I was just having fun. I was just playing the game I love and then days later to see that it was viral on the internet — it was crazy. But at the same time, it was exciting because I remember when I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of flag football role models to follow. So now, for me to be a role model for many boys and girls that play my sport is something that really makes me happy and proud and also motivates me to keep getting better.”

Flores, who led the Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team to a gold medal at the 2022 World Games, will have the chance to promote her sport on one of the world’s biggest stages this weekend when she serves as the AFC defensive coordinator for the NFL’s 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Flores will be joined by Peyton Manning as the AFC head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator. On the NFC side, U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback Vanita Krouch will serve as offensive coordinator, with Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as defensive coordinator.

“I think that this has been one of the best things in my life,” she recently told On Her Turf about her Pro Bowl appointment. “It is like a dream. I mean, I grew up watching football, watching the NFL, playing flag football. And now to be able to be part of all of this — it is bigger than my biggest dreams.”

Flores’ football dreams began as when she was just 8 years old. Her father — who played quarterback for the perennial football powerhouse Monterrey Tech program — took her to a practice and she fell in love with the sport. But as the time there were no teams for girls her age, so she played with girls twice her age and used it to her advantage, focusing on her own abilities and sharpening her skills. By age 14 she was playing NFL Flag in Mexico, where she was the only girl in the league, and at 15 she started playing NFL Flag in the U.S, where she finally played on an all-girls team.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: U.S. flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

“I remember when I started playing, I used to receive a lot of like comments, directly and indirectly from other people, like, ‘Why do you play that sport? That’s not a girls’ sport, that sport is for boys, you’re get injured, you’re going to get hurt, don’t play with boys, that’s too rude.’ And the list keeps going. But my mom and dad were so supportive. They always encouraged me not to listen to anybody, to just follow my passion.

“And I think thanks to them, I’ve always had this mentality that gender doesn’t matter. It just matters how passionate you are about your dreams, how hard you work for what you want to achieve. And that you will always demonstrate what you’re made for, depending on the hard work you do. So, I’ve lived through that [negativity], I have experienced that. And I think that it has been one of my biggest blessings to be able to experience — for myself — what sport can do and how gender barriers get broken when you follow your dreams and you connect with other people through your passion.”

At just 16 years old, Flores made Mexico’s national team, playing in the first of four Flag Football World Championships – so far. Last summer at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, the 24-year-old Flores led Mexico to a 6-0 record, which included two wins over the U.S. women, who took silver. In the gold medal game against the United States, she completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 210 yards and four touchdowns in Mexico’s 39-6 victory. She finished the tournament with 23 touchdown passes, the third-most among women’s teams, and she was the only starting quarterback to beat USA’s star QB, Krouch, who is 19-1 in international tournament play.

All that international experience so early in her career has given Flores a wise-beyond-her-years approach to playing flag football, a sport where she was frequently the only female player on the field and often the only Latin American as well.

“When I first came to the U.S., it was a little shocking to notice that I was probably the only Latin American girl playing,” she recalls. “But I think that it was easy for me because I got all the support from my coaches and my teammates. And since a young age, I think that I started to realize that sometimes what you do is for something bigger than yourself. That’s why you have to always give your best, in any situation. Even at that young age, I understood that I was representing more than myself on the field, I was representing Latin American people, Latin American girls in a sport that [many people thought] was meant to be for boys.”

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

One door Flores hopes to help open is the one leading to the Olympics. Flag football is on the short list being considered for inclusion in Los Angeles in 2028 Los Angeles. As an ambassador for flag football for the NFL and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), she’s participated in talks with the International Olympic Committee, and just last month she was joined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Mexico City where they joined forced to promote women’s empowerment and inclusion.

“I think for me, that experience is one of my top three,” she said of spending time with Biden. “I call them gifts from life, something that you didn’t expect it to happen, and somehow, one day, you’re right there in front of the First Lady. I admire her for what she does for boys and girls, for empowering woman and giving opportunities for everybody to achieve their dreams. So it was truly an honor to meet her, and also to be able to keep impacting my sport, not only on the field, but [off] the field, and have the opportunity keep inspiring others and keep impacting the world.”

As for what she hopes fans at the Pro Bowl and viewers at home take away from Sunday’s flag football showcase, Flores hopes they’ll see the characteristics that made her fall in love with flag in the first place: creativity, speed, agility, teamwork, passion and a lot of heart.

“I hope to show to all little girls and women that dreams come true, that nothing is impossible, to keep inspiring and opening opportunities and doors for women in sports, especially in the world of the NFL and football and flag football,” she says. “We’re going to make history, and I am so proud and happy for that. I’m really hoping that it is just the first step, not only for me, but for all the women that are coming after me.”

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Flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

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When Vanita Krouch got the news that she was named NFC defensive coordinator for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback admits her jaw nearly hit the ground.

And then she realized something even more profound.

“For the longest time, thinking about the moment, everything, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a dream come true. Is this really happening?’” said the 42-year-old Krouch, known as the “Tom Brady of flag football” with a 19-1 record as USA’s starting quarterback in international tournaments since 2018.

“But then I started thinking to myself: You know what? None of us grew up thinking of this as a dream to obtain. So really, it’s kind of reversed where I’m living a dream. I get to be a pioneer in this growth of flag football for all and inclusion for all, youth and adults, [women and men]. It’s such an inclusive sport, and I get to be a part of this growth and still actively play. It’s exciting. I’m literally living the dream. I’m very much like, ‘Guys, don’t pinch me. Let me keep sleeping.’”

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Krouch will be joined by Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as NFC defensive coordinator. On the AFC side, Mexico Women’s National Flag Football quarterback Diana Flores will serve as offensive coordinator, with Peyton Manning as head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator.

But Krouch’s journey to the Pro Bowl stage began under the unlikeliest of circumstances and was inspired by her own family odyssey, which began in Cambodia during the horrific regime of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Krouch’s mother, Phonnary Krouch, fled the country with three young sons in tow, running by night and hiding by day to escape, finding safety initially at a refugee camp in the Philippines. That’s where she welcomed Vanita, in September 1980, and two months later the family made its way to the United States. Krouch’s father exited the picture upon their arrival in America, leaving Phonnary to raise four children alone.

“In a nutshell, my mom is an amazing woman,” said Krouch, who first found sports via an elementary school flyer advertising youth soccer in Carrollton, Texas. “On the journey, she had a lot of trials, tribulations, … and after our dad left us, it was just mom and four kids in this little one-bedroom apartment. So, it was a challenge. I’m just so amazed by her strength and will to never give up.”

She also credits her mom for standing up to then-stereotypical notions that Asian girls should not play sports.

“I’m just thankful, honestly, that my mom allowed me to break the Asian culture barriers of a woman playing sports because that’s not easy,” she said. “She faced a lot of backlash from the community. But she said, ‘Hey, my child’s making good grades. She’s healthy, she’s good. She’s staying off the streets. I don’t see a problem.’ And she just let me do it. I was just lucky to have a mom that let me spread my wings.”

Krouch also had a few mentors along the way. Her elementary school PE teacher, Toni Neibes, stepped in to pay for those initial soccer fees and continued her support as Krouch transitioned to basketball in the fourth grade. She fell in love with the sport and excelled at it as well, eventually earning a full scholarship to play college basketball at Southern Methodist University. She wears the No. 4 to this day in honor of Niebes, who wore the same number as a young athlete. She also credits her fourth-grade teacher, Judy Ward, as having a lasting impact after the teacher made a habit out of showing up for her youth basketball games.

She pays tribute to them both through her clothing line, 4Ward Apparel, which features ever-changing collections emblazoned with relevant slogans encouraging female empowerment, inclusion and her personal mantra of “paying it forward” – something she does with the line itself. Each month, Krouch donates a portion of the sales to individuals, families or organizations in need.

After graduating SMU in 2003, Krouch continued to play basketball in semi-pro and adult leagues, but she was still searching for something to satisfy her competitive drive. She and a former college teammate stumbled on flag football during a Google search for local Dallas-area activities, and the rest – as they say – is history.

“It was like I drank the Kool Aid and I never looked back,” she says of her start in flag in 2006. “It’s just like every game, every play is a new challenge, and it’s addictive for a competitor, so I just fell in love with flag. I actually think I’m way better at flag than I was at basketball.”

She moved into the quarterback position through some sly maneuvering by current USA Women’s Flag Football head coach Chris Lankford. They were playing together in a local tournament when he “tricked” her into the QB position, despite Krouch knowing “zero football language.”

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“One day I showed up for a tournament and I asked, ‘All right, guys, who’s our quarterback?’ And he says, ‘We’re looking at her,’” she remembers. They kept the plays simple, and her team made it to the playoffs that season. Krouch has been a QB ever since.

Krouch joined the national team in 2016 and was inducted into the National Flag and Touch Football Hall Fame that same year. Last year at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, a 41-year-old Krouch set a new mark as the oldest Flag football player, man or woman, in the games, and she ranked second among women with 25 touchdown passes at the tournament where USA won silver.

She aims to bring that expertise to the field at the Pro Bowl games, where she’s looking forward to seeing NFL players take on the flag football style type of plays. “Flag is a very finesse, quick game, a lot of footwork, and these guys can’t grab or hold, no downfield contact or downfield block or anything off the line,” she explains. “So it’s going to be exciting just to see skill for skill, footwork for footwork, defense to offense, and to see flag football language with those type of elite athletes.”

As for the biggest challenge, Krouch believes it will be crafting a concise playbook and language that puts everyone on the same page. “A challenge for me is getting a coach’s mindset,” she adds, “I have to actually come up with plays ahead of time and I don’t usually have premeditated plays in my head. I just read it so for me to tell Kirk Cousins or Geno Smith [what to do], it will be different, you know?”

But beyond the Pro Bowl, Krouch is excited that flag is being considered for inclusion as an exhibition sport in the 2028 Summer Olympics. While she’s keeping a hopeful eye on that development, she’s also working to shape the next generation of potential athletes as a physical education teacher at La Villita Elementary in Irving, Texas.

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

“It’s an honor to be a role model – for other youth flag football players, for my students, both boys and girls,” says Krouch. “Then at my campus and in my community, it’s amazing to be able to break the barrier of like, ‘Asian women can’t do this.’ And then to be at my age, still doing this, I feel very lucky and blessed. …I think I still got some years in me.”

As for what she hopes viewers and fans walk away with after watching the Pro Bowl flag games this weekend, Krouch feels confident folks will walk away enlightened by the show.

“I just hope that they have fun with it,” says Krouch. “And for those who don’t know flag to be like, ‘Wow, that’s really amazing. Maybe that’s something I really can get my son or daughter into at a young age.’ So I just hope that they see that the sport is real – it’s not just something we play at recess. It’s a real thing now. I think they’ll see that the world loves it, the world can play it and is playing it.”

Be sure to check back with On Her Turf later this week when we catch up with AFC coordinator and Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team quarterback Diana Flores.  

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