Capturing the Flag… Football Team, Ahead of the 2022-23 Season

Concordia’s Flag Football Team Seeks to Improve in Year Two

Concordia’s flag football team aims to improve upon early accolades in 2022-23 Photo Credit: Conor Tomalty

The Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will revisit a start-up project during this 2022-23 year. Concordia’s flag football team is heading into its second year of competition, and hopes are high to improve upon the successes a year prior.

Because the team is in the nascent stages of its buildout, they have not acquired Varsity status. Therefore, they must operate as a club team under the Concordia Student Union. 

This isn’t to say the flag initiative doesn’t receive support from Concordia Athletics or the RSEQ—in fact, they do. The project has been running within the scope of a three-year plan. If the reputation and interest continue to grow, the sport will become fully managed by Quebec’s provincial division after this trial period.

“I had a discussion with [Concordia President] Graham [Carr] and Varsity about if the league becomes fully supported by the RSEQ, would they like us to be Stingers’ and they told me yes,” said Concordia head coach Alexis Labonté.

Coach Labonté has a rich background involving both contact and flag football. He, like many other football players, would switch to the indoor flag scene during the winter months as a means of staying sharp for the regular season. 

Labonté began coaching flag football at the high school level when he was 18. He  then advanced to higher levels of competition, having stints with Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf and Collège de Maisonneuve. Years later, his resume is extensive and includes three times coaching the Quebec provincial team, twice as a defensive coordinator for the U18 team and once at the U20 level.  

“There was a tournament last fall where all the teams in Canada–the colleges in Canada playing—and Quebec really destroyed all the competition,” expressed coach Labonté. “[Université du Québec à Montréal] and [Université de Montréal] were in the finals playing together [...] I think we are probably the best province in Canada.”

The respect towards Quebec post-secondary teams aside, Concordia’s team is no slouch amongst the Quebec giants. With a winning record in 2021-22, they were performing well and taking a commanding hold on the standings during the regular season. Their immediate exit in the playoffs was the sole blemish on a virtually excellent campaign.

“We made a big statement last season. It was the first season but it had an immense success,” said Concordia quarterback Sara Parker. Parker herself obtained some well-deserved attention in the debut campaign, both around the league and with her highlights gaining traction.

“Now this year, people know what to expect. So I think we’re going to have a bit more support,” added Parker. 

One unique aspect for the Concordia squad going into this year is the seven rookies on the roster. Although the program is young, the veteran players have become leaders on the team, as they try to invoke a sense of belonging in the incoming players.

“Now this year, people know what to expect. So I think we’re going to have a bit more support” — Sara Parker, Concordia flag football quarterback

“This is our second year [having a league]. I played last year, so we’re considered vets,” said  Sydney Roche. “Showing a little more leadership to the rookies and making them feel like they’re a part of the team [...] That’s a big aspect. And just having fun and taking it all in.”

Roche herself presumes that the 2022-23 season will be her last, as she is finishing up her certified public accounting license at the John Molson School of Business. 
The Concordia Flag Football group is eager for the season to commence. The first match-up will be on Sept. 18, wherein they will play four games against UdeM, UQAM, Université du Québec en Outaouais and the first installment being against Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières at 12 p.m.