My mother told me from a very young age, “you can do and be anything you want!”  In my journey in women’s football, my career, and in living the number of years that I’ve lived, I have realized that there are far more people, specifically women, who didn’t grow up with that message. I hope to represent women of all ages who need to hear that message!

Dana Sparling has had a fabulous career in both flag and tackle football for women’s leagues both nationally and internationally. She is currently the Executive Director of the Women’s Gridiron Foundation. The Foundation offers mentorship to women’s football program start-ups, in-person skills clinics, resources, and unique events that aim to close the gender gap in the sport of American football.  

The core of the work that I do with the Women’s Gridiron Foundation is to make sure that the girls and the women we work with know we see them, and we celebrate them. We encourage them and empower them; football is just the vehicle through which we do that. 

In addition to her career as a player, she has held various management roles including VP of Operations, CFO, Gameday Manager and Social Media Manager for the NY Sharks from 2005-2018. The “Grand Finale” Sharks season in 2018, culminated in both a WFA Division 2 National Championship and a Gold medal in the Transatlantic Trophy Tournament hosted by the Birmingham Lions in the United Kingdom in September of 2018.

If you’re taught by the right leaders, you can find your power and become fearless. We believe in building confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, that will encourage a young girl or young woman to find her voice wherever she may be in her life and/or career.

Dana has lived in the New York Metro area since 1990 and originally hails from Southern California where she grew up attending USC Trojan football games with her family. Her grandfather, Raymond Sparling, played split end on the National Championship winning Trojan team in 1931.

I give kudos to the folks that have gone out and courageously question the status quo, whether they’re male or female, black or white, I don’t care. I’m going to go out there and fearlessly start a charge to get people thinking. I think there’s been so much positive movement because of the courageous people who have taken up the torch and said, “this is not right!”

Dana and her team have been instrumental in creating a pipeline for women to learn the game and eventually coach and run a team. Her hope is to continue to see women in the roles we only saw men in when we were growing up. 

I’ve been involved in sports my whole life and I’ve never seen ties that bind like those in women’s tackle football. When you’re out there with 10 other people, the need for everyone to do their job properly is the only way that a play goes off successfully. If one person doesn’t do their job, the play can fail. You have to be in sync with your teammates in order to be successful, just like in life.

Dana is elated that in her lifetime she has seen the benefits of her work. Women’s High school football has been sanctioned as a championship sport in eight states in just a matter of two years. She will continue to advocate for the continuation of adding more states to the mission.

Our ultimate goal for 2023/24 is to continue our mission to sanction flag football as a high school sport. We are also a resource for startup organizations. If someone doesn’t have flag football in their area and they want to start it, they should contact the foundation and I can point them to the right resources.

You can reach out via social media by following the Women’s Gridiron Foundation on Facebook, Instagram and the website is

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Dana Sparling