The University of Georgia’s Ramsey Student Center staff—members including Caroline Caplinger, Stephanie Calhoun, Jason James, and Marty Mullis– have had notable involvement in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Women’s Flag and Men’s Tackle Football State Championships in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Caplinger and Calhoun achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first two female flag football officials to officiate a GHSA State Championship. Additionally, Caplinger made history by becoming the first woman “white hat” or head referee in GHSA State Championship history for Flag or Tackle Football. James was also a white hat in Tackle Football, and Mullis was part of the chain crew.
Flag football is an emerging sport and will be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Unlike its tackle counterpart, flag has a well-established precedent of female participation and leadership. Caplinger believes flag football is an amazing opportunity that allows females to be more involved in the sport of football.
“There is a lot of talent and interest in flag football here at UGA, so we can’t wait to see the sport grow even more,” said Caplinger.
In December, Caplinger and Calhoun also attended the NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, National Flag Football Championships. Calhoun, the Senior Coordinator for Competitive Sports at UGA, supported the tournament as a member of the NIRSA Championship Series Executive Team.
Caplinger, who is a Graduate Assistant for Competitive Sports at UGA, was the captain of the UGA team, which won the National Championship for the second year in a row. In the past two years, the UGA team has beaten another team from Georgia in the championship game. Specifically, Georgia Southern in 2022 and Georgia College in 2023. As a state, Georgia is becoming a national powerhouse in the growing sport.
Justin Zimmer and Katie Northenor competed on the UGA team for the NIRSA National Flag Football Championship. Zimmer and Northenor were also selected as All-Americans for the tournament. The All-American designation is an honor that recognizes collegiate and secondary school-level athletes for their outstanding skills.
Northenor expressed what an honor it is to be a part of a talented team and represent UGA on a national level. Zimmer shared a similar sentiment.
“Flag football has brought me so much joy and the fact that I am able to share that with such an amazing team for two straight years now is incredible,” said Zimmer. “I can’t thank God enough, truly an experience of a lifetime.”
Students are welcome to join the intramural flag football league at any time throughout the semester. Ramsey Student Center is also hiring student officials throughout the year, and no prior knowledge is required.
By Madison Imparato, Digital Marketing Assistant in the Division of Student Affairs