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Female BYU–Hawaii students gather for flag football tournament to empower themselves and build friendships

Female players hold their yellow flags on the Rugby Field at BYUH.

Students gathered at the Rugby Field on March 7 to watch fellow classmates compete in a female-only flag football tournament. The team Back That Pass Up won the tournament and students and coaches agreed events like Powderpuff football have a deeper purpose than just being a sporting event.

The stands were packed from 9 to 11 p.m. and loud cheers were heard from bystanders to show their support for their friends and fellow Seasiders. Each team consisted of seven women to fill each position of a football team.

Laina Leota, a senior from New Zealand studying exercise and sports science, works for Seasider Sports and helped organize the activity. As a female in a male-dominated field of study, Leota shared how important it is for women to have representation in sports.

“I think it is a great opportunity for all women to have a spot of their own on campus. Most of the sports we put on are very male-dominated. Now is the time where we are saying, ‘Girls only,’” shared Leota.

Gabby Brown, a freshman from Colorado studying biomed, belonged to the team called the Puffles. The Puffles made it to the final round of the tournament and squared off against Back That Pass Up.

Gabby Brown said although her team did not take home the victory, Powderpuff provided her something she said was worth more, “Powderpuff is such a good way to support women. I feel empowered when I play.”

A team stands with their coaches on the Rugby Field at BYUH.

Gabby Brown’s brother, Chandler Brown, a senior from Colorado studying biology, coached Gabby Brown as well as his other sisters and wife who were on the same team.

“I was just trying to help them win. I think it is really important to empower women because they don’t have many opportunities to play football,” expressed Chandler Brown during halftime.

Malia Tupuola, a member of the team Back That Pass Up, unfortunately suffered a slight concussion in the midst of a play during the final round. She reported she felt much better the next day and was well taken care of after she fell on the field.