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USA FOOTBALL ANNOUNCES COACHING STAFFS FOR 2023 U.S. FLAG NATIONAL TEAMS
INDIANAPOLIS – USA Football, a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the sport's governing body, announced today the four individuals tabbed with guiding the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Flag National Teams in 2023. Newly appointed SAAID MORTAZAVI and LIZ SOWERS will serve as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Flag Football National Team. JORGE CASCUDO and PATRICK ALLEY will return to lead the Men’s Flag National Team after holding the same positions in 2022. In addition, USA Football has selected eight individuals that will lead the 17U and 15U Boys and Girls Flag National Teams. Information on each coach is listed below.
U.S. Men's and Women's National Team Coaching Staffs
Cascudo, one of the most accomplished flag coaches in the United States and a legendary flag quarterback on U.S. National Team and professional levels (1996-2018), led the U.S. to a thrilling gold medal finish at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala. last year. Before becoming the U.S. Men’s Flag National Team Head Coach, Cascudo coached the 2021 Panama Men’s Flag National Team, which earned the bronze medal at the 2021 IFAF Flag World Championships in Jerusalem, Israel. The Miami native led Panama to a 4-0 record in group play and scored the championship’s third-highest point total, only trailing the U.S. and Mexico, which earned gold and silver medals, respectively.
Patrick Alley has 20 plus years of experience in the highest level of competitive flag football. Some of his football highlights include winning the Gold Medal as the Assistant Head Coach of Team USA at the World Games in 2022, serving as the Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator in Arena Football, and winning three flag football National Championships as a quarterback. As a varsity athlete, Alley won the State Championship in Texas High School Football in 1994. Patrick is a SMU graduate and former Mustang football player.
Mortazavi will enter his first season at the helm of the U.S. Women’s Flag National Team in 2023 after serving as assistant coach of the Panamanian Men’s National Team in 2021 and head coach in 2022. Mortazavi helped guide the Panamanian team to its highest ever finish at the IFAF World Championships with a bronze medal performance in Israel in 2021. Mortazavi’s side would go on to finish fifth overall on the men’s side at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, helping to establish the Panamanian men as a contender on the world stage. Mortazavi also brings years of youth coaching experience with Redzone Varsity Youth (14U) and 7v7 Varsity (18U), and has been a part of 23 national championships as a 4v4 flag football player.
Sowers will bring a championship pedigree of her own to the U.S. Women’s National Team staff, as she has guided the Ottawa (KS) University women’s flag football team to back-to-back NAIA national championships in 2021 and 2022. Sowers’ history as a highly regarded flag football player includes stints with the West Michigan Mayhem, the Kansas City Titans and the Kansas City Tribe, as well as her current spot on the Kansas City Glory of the WNFC. Sowers is a U.S. National Team alumni from the 2016, 2018 and 2021 Women’s Flag team as well as the U.S. Women’s Tackle team in 2013 and 2017, and served as head coach of the 2022 U17 Flag National Team as well.
U.S. Youth National Team Coaching Staffs
Giles takes the helm as head coach of the 17U Girls Flag National Team in 2023 after holding the same position for the U15 team in 2022. Giles is the founder of the Youngstown (Ohio) Youth Flag Football Association, which has earned numerous youth flag national championships while impacting more than 20,000 boys and girls since 2007. A Miami native, Giles was inducted into the Youngstown State University Athletics Hall of Fame (2010) for his standout play at receiver for the Penguins from 1998-99.
Lara also returns alongside Giles as assistant coach to the 17U Girl’s Flag National Team, a position she held on the 15U staff in 2022. Lara is a current elite adult flag football player from South Florida. Owner of the all-girls South Florida Elite Flag Football organization, she shares her knowledge of the game with the next generation of players.
Perez joins the U.S. National Team staff to lead the Girls 15U team on the heels of a successful playing career spanning 21 years. Perez brings a championship pedigree to the table, having won a World Championship in 5-man Pro in 2020 and a national championship in 4-man play. Perez has years of experience coaching youth division football in South Florida, as well as a pair of years coaching high school ball at Monsignor Edward Pace school.
Hernandez brings 18 years of girls flag football coaching experience into his position at the Girls 15U assistant coach. Hernandez has led the Alonso High School Flag Football team to national prominence in the girls 7v7 flag football world. His team is a two-time Florida High School Athletic Association State Champions and achieved an overall record of 178-44 with 9 district titles, two state runner up finished and two state titles in 17 seasons as head coach. He was recognized as the Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year in 2018. Led by Coach Hernandez, the Alonso team was featured in a national Nike advertising campaign, featured in the Stronger Than One: Lose Count video highlighting the sports expansion on a national level. In 2022, his team was featured in the first ever football game played on the Nike World Headquarters Campus as part of the 2022 Nike Kickoff Classic. Over the past two years Coach Hernandez has ventured into the youth 5v5 space, coaching girls teams ranging from 8u - 17u to several regional championships and participation in National tournaments.
Betancourt brings more than 10 years of experience coaching flag football across programs such as RYAN Football and Defcon 7v7 into his role as head coach of the 17U Boys team. His flag program and teams are some of the sport’s most accomplished in the nation, having won 7 NFL Flag national championships and several 7v7 major tournaments. Betancourt has coached and mentored over 30 athletes that have advanced on to the collegiate level. He has played flag football for about 11 years, and has been competing at the Top Gun level as a QB in the 4v4 and 5v5 formats in the last five years. Betancourt currently coaches tackle football at Gulliver Prep in Miami, Florida, where he is a Physical Education teacher.
Fernandez will serve as the assistant coach for the 17U Boys squad in 2023. He played flag football for 15 years and has two decades of coaching experience, starting in 2003. In addition to coaching flag football, Fernandez also had a successful stint coaching tackle football, where he won a conference championship during his three years at Palmer Trinity School. In 2005, Fernandez founded RYAN Football in memory of his late brother, Ryan, who embodied a team-oriented and giving spirit. Under Fernandez's leadership, RYAN Football has won numerous championships, including eight Beast of the East tournaments, three Let it Fly National Championships, nine USFTL National Championships, twenty NFL FLAG Regional Championships, eight NFL FLAG National Championships and many other tournaments. Throughout his 20 years as a coach, Fernandez has also had a significant impact on the athletes he has mentored, with over 30 players going on to compete in college athletics.
Kallivokas comes to the U.S. National Team coaching ranks with over 25 years of coaching experience in 7v7 and 5v5 football and AAU basketball. As head coach of the U.S. 15U National Team in 2022, he guided the squad to become 2022 International Cup champions, and will continue in that role in 2023. Between his time spent in the high school and youth ranks, Kallivokas has coached and mentored over 100 athletes that went on to play college sports.
An 11-year NFL veteran, Golston brings year of experience around the game to the U.S. National Team staff as the 15U Boys assistant coach. Golston After a standout career at the University of Georgia, Golston was drafted in 2006 by the Washington Redskins (now Commanders), where he would play his entire career from 2006-2016.
USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, organizes the U.S. National Team for international flag and tackle football competition operated under the rules of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).
About USA Football: USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players.