Flag football competes for title in Florida

RYAN HERRING, Sports Columnist

Over Christmas break, Team UNIted represented UNI in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Flag Football Championships in Pensacola, Florida.

Tickets to enter this tournament were not bought, they were earned. The teams that won their regional bracket automatically qualified for nationals and got their entry paid for. Other teams could enter the national tournament, but they would have to pay.

Team UNIted won their regional tournament in Nebraska back in November, making them UNI’s first team to win the Midwest region. They played against some of the top teams in the Midwest and ended up going an impressive 6-0. Creighton, Air Force and Iowa State were just some of teams UNIted took down.

Patrick Martin, quarterback of UNIted, commented on the team’s impressive showing.

“We went into regionals with a swagger that really showed throughout the tournament,” said Martin. “It was truly a team effort to bring home the trophy. In all honesty, regionals was just a reminder. A reminder that we are still the best washed-up athletes in the Midwest region and arguably throughout the nation as well.”

Martin definitely had great control of his offense, but we all know it is defense that wins championships.

Matt Streb led his defense with his consistent flag pulling, which resulted in a (rumored) record of 37 flag pulls in the championship game.

“Big time players step up in big games,” said Streb of his performance.

After the championship was sealed in Nebraska, it was time for UNIted to shift their focus to nationals.

The NIRSA Flag Football Championship was scheduled from Jan. 2-4. The team made their way down to Florida a few days before the tournament just as an NFL superstar would for the Pro Bowl. The guys experienced some unfortunately cold weather in Florida, but, ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal because, for them, it was a business trip. Simple math suggests: less time on the beach equals more touchdowns.

The format of the tournament involved teams beginning by competing in pool play. There were three to four teams in each pool, and the top two teams from each entered bracket play.

UNIted was pooled with Southern University and Pensacola State. They defeated Pensacola in a thriller, winning, 28-27, but fell short to Southern University. This was enough for the UNI squad to move into the bracket of the final 16 teams.

UNIted lost to a tough University of Southern Florida team, 28-6, in their first elimination game, but that did not take away from a successful season. They were the first UNI team to win their region and the first to make it to nationals bracket play.

Being a part UNIted is a lot more than just playing football. The team is filled with strong friendships with guys who love spending time together. They enjoy each other’s company, whether it be fundraising for their trips, running routes or just hanging out.

Martin summed up the team’s incredible year of traveling around to compete.

“We came, we saw and we conquered both on and off the field.”