USA vs. Canada gold medal hockey game: Highlights, post-game quotes, and Women’s Worlds history

The U.S. vs. Canada compete in women's hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics
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Today, for the 20th time in IIHF Women’s World Championship history, the gold medal final featured the USA vs. Canada. On Her Turf live blogged the game, which Canada won 2-1. See below to relive how it unfolded.

2022 Women’s Hockey Worlds: Tournament format, playoff results, overtime rules and more

Women’s Worlds Gold Medal Game: USA-Canada Post-Game Quotes

Marie-Philip Poulin on whether she will have a bruise after blocking a shot in the final seconds of the game:

“I could take any bruise to make sure I was blocking that,” Poulin told On Her Turf.

Brianne Jenner on Poulin’s block:

“It’s funny people are surprised when one of our top scorers does that,” Jenner told On Her Turf. “But I’ve played with her since we were under 18 and I’ve seen her block a lot of shots. She’s clutch for us at both ends… When you look down the bench and everyone’s going to lay their body on the line and you see your captain do it, it’s infectious.”

Brianne Jenner on her two goals:

“I always get made fun of my teammates because I don’t really remember what goes on all that well,” she laughed. “I think on the first one, I just tried to change the angle quickly and shot through the screen. I know (Nicole) Hensley is a really strong goalie so I had to change the angles a little bit before releasing it.

“Then on the second one, I think we had some good traffic at net. So even the best goalies, if they can’t see it, they can’t stop it.”

Kendall Coyne Schofield on the U.S. hockey team earning silver:

“I think at the end of the day, we ran out of time. I think this team had a great tournament. We were prepared. We played prepared… But we ran out of time tonight and we’ve got to find a way to flip that script.”

Abby Roque on why a silver medal feels like a defeat:

“We just want to be on top. That’s what competitors do,” Roque said. “A silver medal doesn’t cut it. We just want to be back on top. And I think we’re going to take this to heart again, just like we did with the last ones, and just keep pushing to get better.”

Brianne Jenner on whether the U.S. team in Denmark felt like a different team than the one at the Olympics:

“I think so. I think they took a step-up in their offense, for sure. I think they were using below the goal line a lot and when teams do that, it’s tough to defend. We certainly learned a lot from that round-robin game. We have respect for them… we know that if we want to defend (our world title), we’re probably going to have to go through them again in April.”

Brianne Jenner on Canadian goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens’ performance:

“We’re so confident when she’s in the net. She’s as cool as a cucumber. … I thought she was really dialed in tonight, as she always is.”

Brianne Jenner on what the next seven months look like for her, from the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour to the 2023 World Championship:

“There’s going to be a lot of good hockey. The PWHPA Tour that we’re gonna have, it’s going to be best on best. A lot of players at this tournament, top U.S. players, top Canadian players, I think it’s going to be fantastic to watch. And I think the target is going to be on our back come April (at the World Championship). And that’s pressure we’re excited to have.”

U.S. head coach John Wroblewski on how he’d assess his team’s performance:

“I really like how we came out. Our focus was to not let (Canada’s) aggressive style kind of take over… I thought we did a nice job of managing the walls and the trenches and advancing pucks.

“They (Canada) are such a mobile, heavy team — mature — they’ve got that winning pedigree, you can see it. It’s one we’re off just a degree on right now and one that we’re trying to gain on the fly with some really nice young players that are hopefully going to mature for us quicker than the expected timeline. I would say the future is bright for our group. I’m really proud to be their coach. It was an awesome experience and one that I’ll treasure for a long time.”

U.S. head coach John Wroblewski on what he told the team after the game:

“I told them how proud I was of them and that it was an honor working with them. I also think the one thing I didn’t tell them, but we’ve talked about as a group, is that, a lot of the times, the work you put in now — or the work you put in a week ago — doesn’t get recognized right away. I think we live in a society that wants instantaneous turn-arounds. And that’s just not the case (in hockey).”

Canadian head coach Troy Ryan on how he’d assess his team’s performance:

“Obviously happy and proud of this group of athletes and staff,” Ryan told On Her Turf. “I think the best thing is that we showed that there’s different ways to win hockey games.”

Canadian head coach Troy Ryan on how his job of leading the team through the 2026 Winter Olympics is impacted by the current landscape of women’s pro hockey:

“It’s definitely challenging without a professional league. I think Hockey Canada does an outstanding job of supporting the athletes during those times that we’re not centralized. But, to be honest, they deserve more. They deserve an opportunity to play professionally. And I think the future of that game is very close. And I’m optimistic that events like this — and gold medal games like tonight’s game — just encourages more people to get involved and speed up the process to make sure it happens.”

Note: every post-grad member of Team Canada is a member of the PWHPA

Women’s Worlds Gold Medal Game: Third Period Live Updates

Wow. Close call for Team Canada. Lacey Eden almost gets the puck past Ann-Renée Desbiens. The overhead replay is something to behold:

48:34: The U.S. is back on the power play after Hilary Knight draws a penalty. It’s called on goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, but will be served by Sarah Fillier.

49:37: Woah. Scramble in front of the Canadian net, with Ann-Renée Desbiens struggling to cover it. When the whistle sounds, U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield approaches the referee, appearing to say the puck hadn’t been covered.

50:30: And another great opportunity from the United States. Really putting on the pressure during this power play opportunity.

51:12: And now it’s Canada on the power play as U.S. defender Savannah Harmon (tripping) heads to the penalty box.

57:21: The U.S. pulls Nicole Hensley to add the extra skater.

59:28: !!!! Ann-Renée Desbiens making save after save as the Americans pile on the shots.

59:58: Caroline Harvey shoots, blocked by Marie-Philip Poulin. Then Cayla Barnes with one final attempt, denied by the body of Jocelyne Larocque.

60:00: And that’s the buzzer! Canada wins 2-1. In the last six months, the Canadians have won Olympic gold, U18 Worlds, and now, their second straight senior world title.

Something to keep in mind: The gold medal wasn’t the only thing on the line today. While Canada would have walked away with a bonus for either silver or gold, the U.S. will walk away without any financial bonus after losing 2-1.

As a reminder: U.S. players are currently negotiating their contract with USA Hockey, which was initially set to expire midway through the tournament on August 31, 2022. On the final day, the two sides agreed to a one-month contract extension.

Women’s Worlds Gold Medal Game: Second Period Live Updates

0:00: Elsewhere in Denmark, there is some confusion about what the result of today’s 5th place game means. Japan defeated Finland 1-0 in a shootout to finish the tournament ranked fifth. Heading into the day, the IIHF website said the winner of the game would earn a spot in group A, but that page was later updated. If world ranking is used instead of today’s result, Finland will continue to play in group A instead of Japan.

I reached out to a representative for team Finland, who told me this:

29:30: And Canada scores! Brianne Jenner makes it look easy (video below). Goal assisted by Marie-Philip Poulin and Ella Shelton.

29:56: And for the third time today, a U.S. player is sent to the penalty box. This time it’s Hannah Brandt (boarding).

30:54: And Brianne Jenner strikes again, almost from the same place on the ice as her first of the day (video embedded below). The power play goal assisted from Sarah Fillier and Sarah Nurse. Canada leads 2-0.

31:00: Before American fans panic too much, it’s worth keeping in mind how the U.S. has rebounded in other games at this tournament.

“I don’t think the bounce back is necessarily an emphasis because that means you have the mindset of being down,” U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield told me yesterday. “But I think there’s just no quit in this group. There’s nothing that can shake this group.”

The U.S. was also down 2-0 to Canada in their group play game, which the Americans went on to win 5-2. Today is obviously a different day, but this game certainly isn’t over.

32:54: The U.S. is on the power play for the first time today as Sarah Fillier (slashing) heads to the penalty box.

38:20: Nicole Hensley has made some great saves since giving up two. That’s something U.S. head coach John Wroblewski shouted out the other day after the U.S. defeated Canada in group play:

“She easily could have let that (those two goals) define her for the evening, but she made some huge saves going forward in the first… and then she made 16 saves in the second and a handful those were grade A… What a performance by her and one that should be a confidence builder going forward.”

38:23: Now it’s Brianne Jenner headed to the box (interference). U.S. will go on the power play for the second time.

39:39: And the U.S. gets on the board! Abby Roque with a beauty of a power play goal, assisted by Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield (video below). With that, Coyne Schofield now owns the American record for most career assists at the world championships (41). Brianna Decker previously held the U.S. record.

40:00: What a period. Canada leads 2-1, with plenty of hockey still to be played.

USA vs. Canada: First Period Live Updates

Before puck drop:

  • As expected, goalie Nicole Hensley will start in net for the United States. The Canadians are going with Ann-Renée Desbiens, who led the team’s gold medal charge at February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. It will be the first time the Americans play against Desbiens this tournament; Emerance Maschmeyer backstopped Canada in group play, a game the U.S. won 5-2.
  • Also of note: U.S. forward Grace Zumwinkle is not dressed for today’s game, the result of an upper body injury.

8:52: Abby Roque is headed to the penalty box after an illegal hit on Sarah Nurse. Canada will have the first power play of the game.

15:00: It’s been a back-and-forth game so far, with just five shots on goal (two for the U.S., three for Canada).

16:00: Woah. Great shot from Marie-Philip Poulin, right off the face off. Nicole Hensley makes the save.

17:00: Alex Carpenter with a great opportunity, puck hits the crossbar (video embedded below). You can hear that “ping” all the way back in the United States.

17:44: And another penalty for the United States. This time it’s Hayley Scamurra (boarding) headed to the box.

20:00: End of first period

  • The U.S. and Canada head to their respective locker rooms tied 0-0. Canada has a 5-2 lead in shots on goal, but failed to capitalize on either of the team’s two power plays.
  • Looking through first period stats, one thing that immediately jumps out is that the U.S. has — on average — been taking much shorter shifts than Canada. It’s a stark difference than the Olympic final six months ago.

USA vs. Canada Women’s Hockey Rivalry: What they’re saying

On the U.S. winning silver at the Beijing Winter Olympics:

“Walking out of Beijing, it’s not what any of us wanted,” U.S. forward Jesse Compher reflected yesterday. “I think that’s just fueled our fire every single day… That’s something you keep in the back of your head when you’re working out, when you’re skating, every single day.”

“(Beijing) was a really disappointing loss for us,” said three-time world champion Amanda Kessel. “These kinds of opportunities don’t come by that often. You never know when you’re going to get the opportunity to go into another world championship gold medal game. You never can take them for granted.”

‘There’s just no quit in this group:’ Dynamic U.S. team to play for gold at Worlds

Canada, the reigning Olympic gold medalists and defending world champions, on playing in another rivalry game:

“The gold medal game is huge,” Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said after the team’s semifinal win vs. Switzerland. “I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it, but we know the target is on us and it’s okay. It’s about using the excitement and knowing [the United States] are coming for us, but just playing our game, keeping our focus on us and competing for 60 minutes.”

“I have goosebumps just thinking and talking about it,” said Canadian goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens. “Canada-USA is an amazing rivalry, it’s always intense and we definitely get the best out of each other. It’s physical and that’s what we love about it. It’s definitely going to be a very good game tomorrow.”

USA vs. Canada Women’s Hockey Rivalry – Olympic and World Championship History

The U.S. has reached the world championship gold medal game 21 consecutive times, dating back to the inaugural championship in 1990. The only time Canada failed to reach the world championship final was in 2019.

Here is a complete history of the U.S. and Canadian hockey teams in Olympic and world championship finals. Games that did not involve either the U.S. or Canada are marked with an asterisk (*)

Year Event Winner and Score
1990 World Championship Canada, 5-2
1992 World Championship Canada, 8-0
1994 World Championship Canada, 6-3
1997 World Championship Canada, 4-3 (OT)
1998 Nagano Winter Olympics USA, 3-1
1999 World Championship Canada, 3-1
2000 World Championship Canada, 3-2 (OT)
2001 World Championship Canada, 3-2
2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics Canada, 3-2
2003 World Championship Cancelled due to SARS
2004 World Championship Canada, 2-0
2005 World Championship USA, 1-0 (SO)
2006 Torino Winter Olympics* Canada defeated Sweden, 4-1
2007 World Championship Canada, 5-1
2008 World Championship USA, 4-3
2009 World Championship USA, 4-1
2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Canada, 2-0
2011 World Championship USA, 3-2 (OT)
2012 World Championship Canada, 5-4 (OT)
2013 World Championship USA, 3-2
2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Canada, 3-2 (OT)
2015 World Championship USA, 7-5
2016 World Championship USA, 1-0 (OT)
2017 World Championship USA, 3-2 (OT)
2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics USA, 3-2 (SO)
2019 World Championship* United States defeated Finland, 2-1 (SO)
2020 World Championship Cancelled due to Covid-19
2021 World Championship Canada, 3-2 (OT)
2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Canada, 3-2
2022 World Championship TBD

2022 Women’s Worlds: Czechia wins historic bronze

Earlier on Sunday, Czechia won the bronze medal game vs. Switzerland, marking the first ever world championship medal for the Czech women’s hockey team.

Czechia won 4-2, with goals from Natalie Mlynkova (2), Daniela Pejsova, and Vendula Pribylova.

Switzerland struggled with injuries and absences throughout the tournament and only 17 players were able to dress for today’s game.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

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

Courtesy Diana Flores

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 offensive 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


When Vanita Krouch got the news that she was named NFC offensive 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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