Teresa Schirrippa, who has vowed she’ll play contact flag football until she can no longer, has two torn rotator cuffs, which date to her East Hampton High School days, but won’t have them operated on until after the world flag football tournament in Israel is played next month.
At 29, Schirrippa, who has played tackle football with the New York Sharks and the Chicago Force, and flag football with the New York T.N.T., beginning with tackle football at the age of 18, is the youngest member of the United States’ 5-on-5 team. She’ll play on both sides of the ball in Jerusalem, as a defensive end rushing the quarterback and as a wide receiver.
As aforesaid, flag football in the U.S. is a contact sport, with blocking and hitting (though no tackling). International games are no-contact, however. “The international game is completely different — there’s much more passing, and, of course, running too — though we can adjust,” said Schirrippa, who was picked for the team this year as a result of her play with T.N.T. at a tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla., last November. The T.N.T. “lost by one point in overtime in the final to a team from Houston. Some of the best teams in the country were there.”
Evidence that the U.S. flag football teams have adjusted lies in the facts that U.S. women’s teams won silver medals in 2010 and 2012.
“Flag football, men’s and women’s, is very popular worldwide,” she said.
Schirrippa played on the 2010 team, which lost to the host, Canada, in the final. (The U.S. men won the gold.) Mexico was the 2012 women’s gold medalist. Schirrippa didn’t play for the U.S. in Sweden that year “because I was moving back here after spending four years in Chicago.”
There are 11 players on the U.S. team, she said, “from all over — California, Texas, Kansas, Philadelphia, Florida. . . .”
Asked what she loved about the sport, Schirrippa, who teaches physical education at the St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights, and who’s summering here, said, “I love the speed of the game, it’s very quick. Every player is faster than the next.”
When it comes to contact, she knows something about that, having had to undergo extensive facial reconstructive surgery in 2009 after she and a teammate collided while rushing the opposing quarterback in a flag football tournament in Orlando, Fla.
While she plays shortstop for the Police Benevolent Association’s slow-pitch softball team, that doesn’t suffice when it comes to training. “I do a lot of bike riding, on the back roads here, in Maidstone Park and on Gerard Drive, where there’s not too much traffic. In Bay Ridge, where I live for most of the year, I go to a gym and do kickboxing. . . . I can’t be inactive, I can’t sit still. I do yoga too. It helps build strength.”
As for the rotator cuff problems, she said, “I’ve been rehabbing with Randi Cherill, the high school’s trainer. It’s been helping. I want to go into the operation as strong as I can be.”
“I’ve had 15 years of pain,” said Schirrippa, who played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in all four of her years at East Hampton High.
As for the coming tournament, in which teams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Panama, Turkey, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Japan, Finland, Germany, France, and China, among others, will play, she said, “I’m very much looking forward to it — I just have to avoid getting hurt.”