Surfer Stephanie Gilmore on record-breaking title: ‘Greatest performance in my entire career’

Stephanie Gilmore celebrates after winning her eighth surfing world title
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Last week, Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore won her eighth world title, breaking her tie with Layne Beachley for most world titles won by a female surfer. 

Gilmore’s eighth world title looked very different than her first seven. Last year, the World Surf League (WSL) introduced a new championship format: a one-day surf-off featuring the top five surfers on the Championship Tour (CT). Gilmore — who won her previous seven titles under the old season-long points system — entered this year’s WSL Finals in San Clemente, California, as the fifth-ranked woman. That meant the 34-year-old had to compete in (and win) every round of the bracket in order to have a chance at the world title. Gilmore did just that, going on to defeat five-time world champ and 2021 Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore 2-0 in the best-of-three final. 

After the competition, On Her Turf caught up with Gilmore about what this eighth world title means to her, whether she plans to continue competing through the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the future of women’s surfing. This Q&A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. 


On Her Turf: I’d love to start with your expectations entering the WSL Finals. As the fifth-ranked woman, you obviously had the longest ladder to climb in order to win the world title. What were your expectations and goals heading into the day?

Stephanie Gilmore: You know, it seemed impossible to imagine you could surf from fifth — beat all of the seeds ahead of you, all of the women that performed better than me throughout the whole season — and go all the way to the final. And then, to have to beat Carissa (Moore) twice in conditions that really favor all of us… Like, four-foot right-handers are really what Carissa excels at, and myself as well.

So I just wanted to keep believing. As cheesy as that sounds, it was just like, ‘Hey, this is a long shot, but a chances is a chance.’

I had this weird feeling if I could get through Brisa (Hennessy) and Tatiana (Weston-Webb), I could get enough momentum to keep rolling. I felt like, at that point, I could probably start getting into Johanne (Defay) and Carissa’s head. They’d see me catching some momentum and (it would) freak them out a bit.

And then, as the day went on, I was just like, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is actually happening. This is insane.’

Women's bracket for the 2022 WSL Finals, showing who Steph Gilmore had to beat in order to win the world title
2022 Rip Curl WSL Finals – Women’s Bracket (WSL)

I was just running off of adrenaline and excitement. Physically, I was ok. I was still able to surf. I just had to conserve my energy in different ways and try not to catch too many waves in a heat.

So yeah. My thoughts were just like, ‘Hey, this seems impossible.’ But if you just do the simple math, it’s not too bad. You can do it (win the world title) in five heats. That’s 10 counting waves. That’s just a three-and-a-half hour surf and you’re done.

On Her Turf: With the new WSL Finals format, what’s the balance of coming in as the fifth seed and getting all of those extra reps and momentum vs. the physical toll of competing in so many consecutive heats? What are the pros and cons?

Gilmore: Yeah, I was thinking about being in Carissa’s position and how I wouldn’t like to (wait around). I feel like it’s much harder to sit there and watch, to try to just visualize and adapt to the conditions without being able to physically go out there and feel the ocean and test the waves and test your equipment. Yes, we’ve already done all that in our practicing and our warm ups, but surfing is unique in that our field changes every 5, 10 minutes. The wind comes up, the tide changes, it’s just constantly moving… Surfing is very much a sport where you have to be in tune with Mother Nature, you have to be in tune with the elements.

I felt like I had such an advantage by the time I got to those later heats because I’d been in the ocean. Yes, each heat I went through was physically draining. But I just kind of kept finding the momentum where, because I’d been in the ocean, I knew what it was doing. I was in rhythm with the waves. And I was able to kind of use that to my advantage, whereas I could see that Joanne and Carissa, towards the back end, were a bit overwhelmed because they’d been sitting there watching it all day. They didn’t get the chance to go out there and feel it.

Rip Curl WSL Finals
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Stephanie Gilmore of Australia competes in her first match of the day at the 2022 WSL Finals. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images)

On Her Turf: Right after you won, you and Carissa embraced out in the water. Can you share what you told her in that moment?

Gilmore: I saw Carissa and I just gave her a big hug. And I said to her that I believed that she was the true world champion this year. Having won all of my world titles in that fashion, where I’d accumulated the most points over the entire season… It seemed hard to imagine that Carissa wasn’t going to be the world champion this year. Like, she had such a great year… And I just said, ‘I admire you so much. And I’m so honored to be able to share the water with with you in the final here.’

Rip Curl WSL Finals
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore talk in the water after the title match at the 2022 WSL Finals. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images)

In saying that, now that I’ve had some time to really process what happened and how I had to just dig deep to be able to go through all of those incredible female athletes, and then to get through Carissa twice, at the very end of the season. It’s finally sunk in to me that that is truly what it takes to be a world champion… With this new format, it was almost like I was out to prove all that’s wrong with it, but all that’s right with it as well…

And I actually really appreciate this new format, because it does bring out the best in athletes. I would say this was my greatest performance in my entire career. And I wouldn’t have had that chance without this new format.

On Her Turf: Wow. That’s a big statement, especially given that it’s your eighth world title. That actually leads to something I wanted to ask you about: I was curious if you have specific memories of all eight world titles? Or have they started to blend together, especially given that you won the first six in such quick succession?

Gilmore: I would say the first one (2007) is very memorable because it was the first and it was my rookie year on tour. And I was just so hungry to get out there and be world champion, that was my dream. So that one was incredibly memorable.

And then I’d say world titles two, three and four (2008, 2009, 2010) kind of blend together. Like I’m probably actually a bit shady on what the last events were and who (I had to win) against.

I had an assault after my fourth world title and I was out for a few months with physical injury. It was just kind of a traumatic moment in my life. And so thinking about the fifth world title (2012), it was my most rewarding title for a long time because I had to overcome a traumatic experience and I had to really re-find that confidence that I used to have in the beginning of my career. That’s when questions of doubt started coming, like, ‘Can you do it?’ That was also the start of when Carissa came on tour and started blazing through everyone. So when I was able to really fight back and win the fifth world title, that one was like, ‘Okay, this is a pinnacle moment.’

The sixth (2014) was great, but yeah, it kind of blends in. And then the seventh (2018) to align with Layne Beachley for the record was a huge goal of mine.

But winning my eighth kind of blows them all out of the water.

On Her Turf: It always strikes me as really hard for athletes when they have sustained success when they are really young… And then when they aren’t as successful, it seems like some people struggle to separate that downturn in their sport with their own self worth. I’m curious if that’s a feeling you experienced and how you dealt with it?

Gilmore: Totally. That’s a great question because it’s like, from a young age, I was able to detach from my wins really easily. It was kind of like, ‘Great, I’m winning a lot. And this is awesome.’ But I always felt like there was more to do, there was more to achieve, that I needed to surf better.

You have to be cautious of not becoming these world title trophies. Because surfing is just something that you do, it’s not who you are. Yes, I live and breath surfing. But, I think as a competitive athlete, you kind of have to be able to detach from wins and losses the same. You have to restart and refresh and move onto the next challenge, the next event, the next year with a fresh mind and see how you can evolve in all the different areas.

It’s like, I just won my eighth title. But I’m already thinking about the performances that I had this year that I was really disappointed in… To not have a great performance in Hawaii, to not get a great result in Tahiti, like, I would love to win those events. And that’s already giving me so much inspiration to just keep going. That’s the cool thing about surfing: we have such different playing fields, and to be able to perform at peak level in all the different waves, that’s really cool.

So that’s kind of where my head is at.

On Her Turf: I’m glad you brought up Tahiti! That was obviously a historic event just for women to be back at Teahupo’o and competing again. What were your main takeaways? And looking ahead, what are you hoping to accomplish there?

Gilmore: Tahiti was really special. All of us women on tour, we just bonded a lot at that event. We knew we had to unify and support each other because we could feel that all of us were intimidated.

We were at this scary wave and we wanted to put on a great show, but all of us were like, ‘Oh, this is new territory, we’re not sure how we’re gonna perform.’ We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves and we wanted the sport to grow. So it was cool. Yes, we were competing against each other. But there was something about the camaraderie that was really special. Even though the waves, you know, in the end weren’t so great at the finish.

Also, to see the young girls, local girls from Tahiti that were so confident, like Vahine Fierro. I thought she was going to win the whole contest. I watched her in the pre-surfs and I just thought, ‘This is what is so cool about women’s surfing.’  We’re only just starting to see these young women who have been surfing in these remote locations. And they’re starting to become world class surfers and they’re leading the charge for us as well, you know?

But yeah, I didn’t get a great result there so I know I’ve got a lot of work to do. I think that’s also the general feeling from all the women. It was great and we all pushed each other. But we all know we’ve got a lot of work to do and room to improve in these conditions. I mean, a lot of us were already talking about planning a trip back there to learn the wave more.

On Her Turf: Are you hoping to compete there during the 2024 Paris Olympics? I guess “Paris” should maybe be in quotes given how far away the surfing venue in Tahiti is from the Olympic host city.

Gilmore: Yeah, that’d be really cool. It’d be strange, for sure, not being in Paris with the Opening Ceremony and all that other stuff. Having been to Tokyo for the Olympics, I know that that was the highlight for me: going to the Opening Ceremony and meeting all the other athletes. So Tahiti will be kind of different. But in saying that, I’m sure winning a medal, getting spat out of really big beautiful barrels in Tahiti, that would feel really good, too.

SURFING-FRA-WSL-WOMEN
Stephanie Gilmore competes during the 2022 Outerknown Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o, French Polynesia, on August 19, 2022. (Photo by JEROME BROUILLET/AFP via Getty Images)

On Her Turf: In terms of the growth of women’s surfing. I always say how thankful I am that I get to cover a variety of women’s sports because it is so interesting to compare and contrast between what different women’s leagues and sports are trying. And surfing is clearly doing a lot right in terms of gender equality, from the equal prize money to the side-by-side WSL Championship Tours this year. But gender equality is also the type of thing where the work might never be done. I’m curious what you think is the next step in that evolution?

Gilmore: Yeah, it isn’t ever done, progression is an ongoing thing.

I’m just so proud of the women in surfing. These positive changes that have happened, that is from the hard work and perseverance of the women before us, which started in the 70s, 80s, the 90s… That was a tough period for women in surfing.

It’s so incredible to see the young women now. The WSL does a ‘Rising Tides’ event. And pretty much in every country we’ve been to… In El Salvador, we had 40 young women that came down and they were great surfers. In Brazil there were like 50 young girls. And then here in California, we had 30 young girls who all surfed incredibly well.

It just restored my faith in the fact that, even though we may not specifically be on this mission to progress the sport of women’s surfing, we’re doing it through our actions, through our own personal goals, and our own personal missions. So the progression is happening and it’s really cool.

On Her Turf: Related to that… I was curious if there were any up-and-coming surfers you really enjoyed getting to know this year? Athletes who maybe didn’t have a huge breakthrough or win, but that you just enjoyed watching surf?

Gilmore: Yeah, I really enjoyed watching Bettylou Sakura Johnson. She’s from Hawaii and she’s sponsored by Roxy, too. So we spent a bit of time together and she’s a phenomenal young surfer.

Also Gabriela Bryan. She had the best year of all the rookies, made the cut, and had some awesome performances throughout the year.

I really liked Luana Silva, too. She and Bettylou were best friends on tour. I loved watching them learn. Like, they didn’t make the cut and it was a really emotional moment for them. It was kind of like watching their dreams crash. But at the same time, I just wanted to say them, ‘Hey, it’s a long, long career ahead of you. And these are the moments that that make you stronger.’ So it was cool to kind of be able to step in and be a big sister in that in that moment. But it’s hard because I also can’t give them too much information because they’ll be out here smashing all of us pretty soon (laughs).

On Her Turf: Final question, and this might be silly but, how did you decide on jersey #88? And do you switch to #99 as you now pursue your ninth surfing world title?

Gilmore: I was born in 1988. So that’s a pretty easy one. And I just liked the number eight. It looks beautiful, it’s infinite. Yeah, it’s a it’s a really nice number and so I just kind of stuck with it. And I’m sure I’ll stick with it for a while. Lucky 88.

On Her Turf: There you go! No. 88 has her eighth world title!

Gilmore: On the eighth of September, too!

2022 Rip Curl WSL Finals Lower Trestles
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Stephanie Gilmore celebrates winning the 2022 WSL world title, setting a new record for most world titles won by a female surfer. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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Diana Flores looks to break down gender barriers with turn as AFC offensive 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 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

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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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