Fredonia’s flag football team missed prom, invited to Grand Island’s

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Several seniors at Fredonia High School missed their prom last weekend as their girls’ flag football team competed in the playoffs.

Choosing between attending the senior prom and competing in a division championship is a difficult decision for anyone, yet it was one that all ten seniors on the team made without hesitation.

“It was just unfortunate for all the seniors who could not go to their senior prom, which is a big event in high school. So, it was just kind of a bummer,” senior captain Ella Koopman said. “Obviously, we all wanted to participate in the game because that’s obviously more important to most of us as student athletes.”

Last Saturday, the Fredonia High School girls flag football team, in only their second season, won their first ever Section 6 Championship, however, the school’s prom was that exact same day.

“I know that not being able to go to prom really bothered them, but it did not make them skip a beat as far as preparing for this game,” co-head coach Timothy Kachelmeyer said.

“I knew that I had to play in the game and get the blue patch,” continued senior captain Emma Patterson.

The final score of their victory, 40-6, showed that the girls came to play. By lacing up their cleats instead of their dresses, they displayed full commitment to the team.

“If anything, there was just a little added motivation that, hey, if we are going to miss our prom, we definitely got to come away with a W on this one,” co-head coach Nick Bertrando said.

“We were all going to either go to the game or prom and we all picked the games,” senior captain Lily Runkel added.

In a statement, school leaders said the student council and athletic director worked hard to find a way for the girls to attend prom.

Section 6 provided an opportunity to move the game if all other schools involved in the tournament agreed to the change, but not all did.

This was tough news for those on the field and their dates.

“They ended up showing up to the game with posters and in their suits, and it was just really nice to see them coming and supporting since they missed their prom too,” senior captain Francesca Puccei said.

Hearing the dilemma, the Grand Island High School principal, who has a niece on the team, sprang into action by inviting everyone to the Vikings’ prom. She even fundraised to offset the cost of tickets for the players.

“These girls already spent money on dresses, and they were worried they wouldn’t get to wear them,” Grand Island High School Principal Hillary Kretz-Harvey said. “They had already bought their own prom tickets that were nonrefundable. Immediately, our students said absolutely, we would love to welcome them.”

In response to the news, coach Bertrando said, “It almost brings you to tears. It was the ultimate sign of sportsmanship.”

The teams’ seniors and juniors, along with their dates, will be hitting the dance floor at Grand Island High School on June 1.

“I just feel like they felt like they were in our shoes,” senior caption Keioany Diaz said. “They saw it as our perspective. So, them doing that for us was really nice.”  

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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