Amanda Lara eats, sleeps and breathes football.
Currently working as a full-time athletic trainer at Doral Academy in Miami, Lara’s sporting background includes a collegiate career as a softball player, but football consumes the lion’s share of her time these days. Lara has engaged with flag football at multiple levels, including as a coach, player, and camp organizer. The only thing that matches her commitment to the athletes she tends to as an athletic trainer is her commitment to growing the sport of flag football in South Florida.
That commitment began at Doral Academy, where a conversation with a coworker helped her take the first step into organizing youth camps in her area.
“I was talking to a friend of mine at Doral who owns a local youth soccer organization, and I would tell him all the time how I wish I could do what he does,” Lara recalled. “The girls’ and the women’s flag football game is up and coming, and you’re seeing now that women have the opportunity to play flag football in college. There are a lot of girls in South Florida who really had no idea that was a possibility and I wanted to change that. So, one day he convinced me to just jump in and run a camp of my own to get my start, and that’s when I opened South Florida Elite Flag Football. We ran our first camp in Doral and had about 60 kids there, and it was just amazing in so many ways. It was above and beyond what I would’ve ever expected, and it created a real buzz around town.”
Lara has organized and run five camps in total in South Florida, and often uses her own money as a resource to make it happen. She has focused on teaching skills and drills and growing the presence of women in the sport while fulfilling her passion for working with youth.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be involved with youth,” Lara said. “I’ve been working with youth my entire career as a coach. I was a head coach for a high school softball team for six years and that’s really where I learned to be a head coach, but I’ve been coaching in some capacity since I was 18.”
Lara’s camps served as a launchpad for her next venture, creating two travel club teams for the South Florida Elite.
“I had a coach and close friend of mine, Willy Perez, come up to me at an event with the idea of starting a travel flag football team under South Florida Elite with me, and so we did. We hosted a tryout and created a U15 and U17 team”, recalled Lara. “We now travel with these teams around to tournaments to expose them to more flag football outside of their high school season. When I created South Florida Elite, it was with the mindset that girls right now in Florida only play flag for four months out of the year, and then there’s no more opportunity for them to play. With it being a college sport now, these girls want to play more throughout the year, and so we’ve given them the opportunity to do that.”
Lara’s recent accomplishments include being selected as an alternate for the 2022 U.S. Women’s Flag National Team, which announced its roster earlier this month. She also serves as an assistant coach for the 15U Girls Flag National Team.
“It’s exhausting at times but it’s really a great thing to sit back and look at how the game is growing in South Florida and knowing I have a role in growing it. There are tons of talented athletes down here, they just need a chance to play.”
It's easy to see why Lara has been successful in all these endeavors. Her enthusiasm for the sport is infectious, and she’s made a quick impact on her peers, particularly among the USA Football ranks.
“Amanda has done so much to put women's flag football on the map, not only as a player but as a coach as well,” says Elliott Giles, head coach of the U.S. 15U Girls’ Flag Team. “Having her on the sidelines with me, to help with making these young women better players has been invaluable. To have her also be someone that our U.S. players can look up and strive to be like is just priceless. She deserves all the praise she can get. She is truly an asset to the USA Football family."
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