From the very beginning of her life, Dana Sparling was instilled with a powerful message by her mother: “You can do and be anything you want!” This mantra has guided her throughout her career and life, inspiring her to pave the way for women in the world of American football.
Today, Dana Sparling is not just a football player but a trailblazer and mentor, passionately dedicated to promoting gender equality within the sport.
With a stellar career that spans both flag and tackle football, Dana Sparling has achieved success in women’s football leagues both nationally and internationally. Currently serving as the Executive Director of the Women’s Gridiron Foundation, she is on a mission to empower women of all ages who may not have grown up with the same message of limitless potential.
The Women’s Gridiron Foundation, under Dana’s leadership, offers invaluable mentorship to women’s football program start-ups, hosts in-person skills clinics, provides essential resources, and organizes unique events. Their primary objective is to bridge the gender gap in American football and make sure that every girl and woman involved in the sport feels seen, celebrated, encouraged, and empowered.
Dana Sparling’s dedication goes beyond playing the game; she has held various management roles, including VP of Operations, CFO, Gameday Manager, and Social Media Manager for the NY Sharks from 2005 to 2018. Under her guidance, the NY Sharks had a triumphant 2018 season, clinching both a WFA Division 2 National Championship and a Gold medal in the Transatlantic Trophy Tournament in the United Kingdom.
In Dana’s own words, “If you’re taught by the right leaders, you can find your power and become fearless.” The Women’s Gridiron Foundation focuses on building confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth in young girls and women, using football as a vehicle to empower them in all aspects of life.
Originally from Southern California, where she grew up attending USC Trojan football games with her family, Dana Sparling’s football heritage runs deep. Her grandfather, Raymond Sparling, played split end on the National Championship-winning Trojan team in 1931.
Dana is a staunch advocate for those who challenge the status quo, regardless of gender or race. She believes that positive change occurs when courageous individuals take a stand and say, “This is not right.” Dana and her team have been instrumental in creating a pipeline for women to learn the game, coach, and lead teams, breaking barriers that were once dominated by men.
Having been involved in sports her entire life, Dana recognizes the unique bonds formed in women’s tackle football. Teamwork, synchronicity, and mutual support are paramount to success on the field, mirroring life’s challenges and triumphs.
Dana Sparling is thrilled to witness the impact of her work firsthand. Within just two years, women’s high school football has been sanctioned as a championship sport in eight states, and she remains committed to expanding this mission to additional states.
Looking ahead to 2023/24, the Women’s Gridiron Foundation’s ultimate goal is to continue advocating for the sanctioning of flag football as a high school sport. They also serve as a valuable resource for startup organizations, offering guidance to individuals seeking to introduce flag football in their communities.
For more information about Dana Sparling and the Women’s Gridiron Foundation, please visit their website at www.womensgridironfoundation.org. You can also connect with them on social media by following the Women’s Gridiron Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.