Plainview-Old Bethpage’s Jen Canarutto will compete in Long Island QB...

Plainview-Old Bethpage’s Jen Canarutto will compete in Long Island QB challenge on July 23, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The National Football League is continuing its support and promotion of girls flag football. Dave Gardi, the senior vice president of football operations for the NFL, will hold a leadership symposium at NFL headquarters in Manhattan at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

The event will host all 13 girls who qualified for the inaugural Orlin & Cohen Long Island Girls QB Challenge to be held July 23 at Kings Park. The James C. Metzger Suffolk chapter of the National Football Foundation will host several special events during the year for students recognized for their achievements on the gridiron as well as in the classroom.

Gardi is excited about this first-time event and the inclusion of the girls flag football players. “The symposium is a great opportunity to hear how people got into all kinds of sports and all about their journey,” said Gardi, the son of the late Joe Gardi, who was the head coach at Hofstra and a Jets assistant. “Flag football is exploding in our area and student-athletes are excited about the sport. We want to generate more positivity and healthy competitive spirit for girls in the game.”

The first-time NFL event will allow student-athletes to hear from a panel of distinguished professionals from a wide array of career paths, including law, medicine, finance, marketing and pro and collegiate sports.

“Each panelist will be providing career advice and the athletes will be able to interface with accomplished professionals in a meaningful way,” said Len Genova, president of the Metzger Suffolk NFF. “One of the highlights of the evening will be the inclusion of all those girls selected by the NFF to participate in this year’s Girls Long Island QB Challenge.”

The top returning girls QBs from Long Island, including Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s Jennifer Canarutto, who led the Hawks to the L.I. title with a 13-12 win over Half Hollow Hills, will attend.

“They’re treating us like professionals. It’s really cool,” said freshman Taylor Mileti of Hauppauge, who threw for 24 TDs for the Eagles (13-1). “They’re sending Coach buses to take us into Manhattan. It’s big time and I’m so excited.”

Gardi will serve as the moderator for the symposium. The Sayville native, who played collegiately at Brown University before attending Hofstra’s School of Law, has worked with the NFL for more than 20 years. He employs a unique combination of legal background and a lifetime of football knowledge to ensure that all football operations are following all league rules and procedures.

Genova announced that the Suffolk NFF, which has sponsored a boys top Scholar Athlete Program since 1995, will be doing the same for the girls starting in 2024.

According to Genova, “the chapter is extremely excited to be recognizing those female athletes who have achieved so much in the classroom, on the athletic field and in their communities”.

The participants in the Girls LI QB Challenge: Jenna Biondo (North Babylon), Jennifer Canarutto (Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK), Alexandra DaEira-Loccisano (Eastport-South Manor), Grace Gilmartin (Northport), Samantha Heyman (Hills), Julia Hromada (Center Moriches), Delaney Israel (Longwood), Kate Lynch (Westhampton), Taylor Mileti (Hauppauge), Oliva Moynihan (Sayville), Brooke Nielsen (Long Beach), Victoria O’Neill (Massapequa) and Pixie Ryan (Northport).

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