LUDOWICI -- The sport of flag football is becoming more and more popular as many high schools and some colleges have added it as a new varsity sport. With that comes the opportunity for more local athletes to get a chance to play at the next level and that is what is happening with Long County Lady Blue Tide athlete Makayla Raimer.
On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the senior basketball and flag football star took to Twitter and announced that she had been extended an offer to play the latter sport by Hesston College. This makes her the first ever Lady Tide flag football player to receive a collegiate offer in the sport.
In a private message Tuesday night, Raimer said that the offer was “rewarding,” and she was “forever grateful” having played with the group of girls she did this past season.
Raimer was a member of the inaugural Lady Tide flag football team that went 12-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs, just falling a few yards short of possibly tying the game and advancing to the semifinals.
During the 2021 season, Raimer accumulated over 400 yards rushing and receiving and scored six touchdowns. Head coach Paul Austin said that one quality about Raimer was her ability to be a coach on the field.
“She was my coach on the field,” Austin said. “By the end of the season, she was seeing things and helping me make adjustments that helped in the playoffs.”
Austin also said that Raimer was the one taking the snap when the team went into their Victory formation, showing how much of a leader she was for the team.
“Coach Austin has been telling me since I was young that I didn’t have to be the eldest to be a leader,” Raimer said. “(This) stuck with me throughout high school, no matter the sport or occasion. Leadership isn’t a given, it’s a privilege, and not everyone is cut out for it.”
Raimer also said “being able to play for a coach like Coach Austin is a blessing within itself” and said his passion “motivated” the team every game.
“Throughout the season I found myself beginning to share that same love, which transferred into being his voice once the ball was in play,” she explained. “I believe that a glance into the amount of responsibility he challenged me with will make the transition onto the collegiate level a bit smoother.”
Hesston College is in Hesston, Kansas and announced in July that they received a $10,000 grant from the National Junior College Athletic Association Foundation, NFL FLAG and RCX Sports to start the team for the 2022-23 academic year.
Playing for the Larks for two years could give Raimer the opportunity to move on to a four-year university as in the summer of 2020, 15 colleges in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced they would be starting flag football teams.The recent uptick in popularity of flag football could lead to the NCAA officially ratifying the sport and open the possibility of adding it to the Division I, II, and III levels of play