Building the Pathway: U.S. Women’s Flag National Team Jo Overstreet

By Samuel Teets | Posted 12/5/2023

USA Football emphasizes the importance of football for all and actively supports and participates in the creation of pathways for more people to participate in the sport. In the coming months, USA Football will highlight and share the experiences of exceptional members of the football community who have expanded the sport’s scope through their play. 

Since joining USA Football’s U.S. Women’s Flag National Team in 2018, wide receiver Jo Overstreet has captured two International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag World Championships and brought home a third gold medal this past July at the 2023 IFAF Americas Continental Flag Football Championship. As a four-time member of the U.S. National Team, Overstreet is one of the most accomplished international flag football stars.  

Overstreet recently shared her football journey with USA Football. Below is the three-time gold medalist’s story as told in her own words.  

I started playing football at age 11 on the local youth boys' tackle team. I played for three years, and we won the city championship every year. I was a punt returner, safety, corner, wide receiver, running back and quarterback.  

I was a multi-sport athlete in karate, volleyball softball, basketball, football and track. My workout discipline comes from having an at home trainer for karate, and that has stuck with me throughout my life.  

When I was younger, I had very vivid visions of me representing the U.S. in a sport. I could certainly feel it even though it wasn't tangible. I could truly see it when no one else could see it. I pushed myself extremely hard in everything that I did. I live by the quote, “Don’t expect people to understand your grind when God didn’t give them your vision.” 

I received all district honors in four sports while at Ellison High School, and I was a high jumper ranked eighth in the state of Texas. After high school, I played basketball at the University of Houston, where I was an All-Conference USA selection and a conference scholar athlete. I graduated with honors, which still is one of my greatest achievements. After college, I played professional basketball in Europe for three years.  

When I didn’t get drafted to the WNBA, I went into a period of depression and didn’t find my way out of it until I discovered flag football later in life. I moved to Dallas to start coaching and met Vanita Krouch at a flag football tournament. She asked if I wanted to play with her team, and that's where it all started. I found my passion for sports again. 

We started to travel to different cities as we grew bigger in the flag football world. Eventually, we decided to go to Mexico to play. After leaving the field in Texcoco, Mexico, there was a line of people waiting to get autographs and pictures. I was extremely shocked to find out that I had so many fans outside of the United States. I had no clue that they had been following me on my social media for years. I didn't know the impact I had on so many people in the world just by being myself and playing flag football. It really touched my heart.  

After I posted about being in Mexico, my messages blew up with request for me to visit other countries. I was invited to play in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala and Puerto Rico. This is where my Instagram name, the “International Female Flag Football Player” came from.  

I come from a family of givers. My family does mission trips and runs community programs in West Virginia. I have always wanted to find a way to serve through my faith. So when I started to travel for football, I was able to find my purpose. During this time, there were limited signs of women’s football growing, so I set off to different countries to give out gear and spread my faith, love and compassion through the game of football.  

Vanita and I decided we would apply for positions on the U.S. Women’s Flag National Team, which we found on YouTube. We both got denied. We finally got a true shot to try out for the team when USA Football started to scout at tournaments. I truly appreciate the pathway that USA Football has created now for everyone to get a chance to tryout.  

I got to compete with the U.S. National Team for the first time in 2018 in Panama. This is truly my second chance in life at being an athlete again.  

Now in 2023, everything has come full circle. I have sponsors to help me fulfill my purpose of traveling, giving back and spreading love and compassion through football. I also get the opportunity to live out my passion to compete on the U.S. National Team, which was a vision I had ever since I was 11. 

Representing the U.S. has a deep-rooted meaning for me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that USA Football has provided me on my football journey.