APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Coco Lavielle just wanted to play some football. The sophomore from Apex High School had played flag football throughout her time in middle school and wanted to continue as she transitioned into high school. But Apex -- and greater Wake County -- didn't offer flag as a sanctioned or intramural high school sport.
"They didn't offer that at Apex, so I suggested that she go ask to start a club," said Thayer Lavielle, Coco's mom.
Coco and her mom would meet with Apex High School Athletic Director Rob Weidenburner multiple times to continue to push for the initiative.
"They were persistent and didn't take no for an answer," said Weidenburner. "(And) it was never a no for an answer, we wanted to be strategic, Deran Coe (Wake County Public Schools System Director of Athletics) was instrumental in this. The conversations turned to not only making this a club but doing it right."
Coming out here and seeing all these girls really want to play just gets me so riled up and I just get so super excited.- Coco Lavielle, Apex sophomore
After getting support from the county, the Lavielles sought out help from the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
"We knew that the NFL was really investing in girls flag football globally," Lavielle explained. "Their head of community relations, Riley Fields, immediately responded, and said we want to do everything we can to help to get this going in Wake County."
The Panthers provided funding, equipment, and resources to the startup, while Wake County garnered more and more interest. On Jan. 11, WCPSS held a girls flag football kickoff event at Millbrook High School, announcing the participation of 20 schools.
The league held its first round of games 16 days later, an experience that Coco won't soon forget.
"My coach pulls me aside and says, 'Can you just take a step back and see what you all have been working for?'" Coco said. "It's honestly empowering, it's so inspiring. Coming out here and seeing all these girls really want to play just gets me so riled up and I just get so super excited."
Her mom couldn't be prouder.
"She's so gracious and humble about it, which is fantastic, but she really pushed and continued to push," Lavielle said. "And just when it felt like it wasn't going to go anywhere, we just leaned back in."
The teams have two more competition weekends before meeting in the Sup-HER Bowl on Feb. 10 at Athens Drive High School.