By Debbie Hall, Photos by Jefferson Applegate
Sports have always been a part of Susan Spencer’s life. Her father would take her and her sister to Notre Dame Football games when they were children. “I learned the game of football (without playing it) by watching games and our dad always had college coaches around our home when we were growing up,” she said. “My five years working for the Philadelphia Eagles (her father owned the team) as legal counsel, operations manager and eventually general manager when I was in my 30’s was a whole new world in my early career.”
Since she had been immersed in professional football, even when Spencer left sports to open her business, she realized her football knowledge became a door opener. “Because I could talk sports, and especially football with the best of them, I realized that knowledge of sports is the magic key to success in business. I used my knowledge and experience to own and operate several meat processing companies for more than twenty years,” Spencer explained.
After moving to Las Vegas, Spencer wrote a book about women in business, helped a former client navigate a lengthy litigation and worked as a sports radio analyst in 2012. During this time, “I became aware of the sad state that many local high school football programs were facing,” she said.
“I started A Level Playing Field Foundation to support disadvantaged high school football programs in the valley. The Clark County School District was sued by the National Women’s Law Center who brought a Title IX law suit against the district because there were not enough sports for girls as compared to boys. As a result of the ruling, in 2013 the first season for Girls Flag football began.”
Spencer is now exploring what she can do to grow the sport and gain visibility including reaching out to colleges to add Girls Flag Football as well as encourage USA Football and NFL High School Player Development program to add a Girls Flag Football competition (available for boys). She is working on creating a tri-state tournament to showcase Girls Flag Football between the three states that have Girls Flag Football as a high school sport which includes Florida, Alaska and Nevada.
Spencer chose to get involved with Girls Flag Football to level the playing field so to speak. According to Spencer, “The best way is to have girls participating in male dominated sports so they can talk about it and get to a level playing field as they graduate and begin their career. Girls Flag Football gives young women a great sense of confidence, give fathers something to share with their daughters, and during televised college and professional games, dads and moms get a chance to share a special bond with teenage girls who have learned to love and appreciate football by playing it.”
Spencer finds the irony is that most of the Girls Flag Football coaches are men. Spencer wants to develop a training program for female coaches and believes soccer would be a good match-up since it is played in a different season in high school than Girls Flag Football. Her advice to female coaches is to learn flag football from the male coaches.
“I have spoken to many successful women and they all attribute their business and other career success to their involvement in high school sports,” Spencer stated and is working hard for continued growth for high school girls with involvement in flag football. For more information, visit alevelplayingfield.org.