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For Immediate Release 

December 19, 2023

Football Ontario Unveils 2024 Team Ontario Women and Girls Flag Coaching Staffs

Football Ontario Announces the Team Ontario Women’s and Girls Flag Coaching Staffs

Hamilton, Ontario – Football Ontario has officially unveiled the Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches for the 2024 Women and Girls Flag Program. In 2024, Football Ontario will have four Women and Girls Flag Teams that will represent the province at the Provincial All-Star National Championships, which are to be held in the Spring in Kingston, ON.

To read more about the 2024 Flag High-Performance Program. Please view the 2024 Road Map.

There will be four age groups present at this event:

  • 18 (2006)
  • U18 (2007/2008)
  • U16 (2009/2010)
  • U14 (2011/2012)


WATERLOO REGISTRATION – January 13, 2024 (Women/Girls)

YORK REGISTRATION – January 27, 2024 (Women/Girls)

CARLETON REGISTRATION – February 17, 2024 (Women/Girls)

The 18 Women’s Flag Program will be led by Head Coach, Melissa Grieco. Melissa is a York University alumni who played hockey, rugby and football in the past. As a football player, she was named the Offensive MVP, Lion of the Year (Leadership/Sportsmanship) and Playmaker of the Year. 

Melissa started her coaching career with the Etobicoke Eagles in 2010 and has since coached all levels from Tyke to University football.  As the Assistant OC of the York Region Lions Football team, Melissa earned a Varsity Championship in 2019 and took on the role of Player Development for the following season. On top of coaching, Melissa still plays herself.

In 2023 Melissa participated in the CFL’s Women in Football Program with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a coach during training camp and pre-season, focusing on working with the offence, more specifically, the receivers. She is currently the Head Coach for Sheridan College’s Women Flag Football Team, that plays in the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association, and finished Top 5 in the province in their first year playing the 5v5 style in the ’22-’23 season.

Melissa will be joined by Assistant Coach, Alysha Emerson. Alysha has been active in the football world for the last 17 years in multiple capacities: player, coach, referee and football operations/development. Alysha has competed in many styles of football and has competed across Canada in part of the Touch Football Ontario Trillium Tour, Internationally in part of the Flag Football World Champion Tour and throughout her Collegiate years with Humber College and Laurier Brantford University. 

In 2023, Alysha participated in the CFL’s Diversity in Football Program with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a coach during training camp and pre-season, focusing on the defensive side of the ball. She is currently the Defensive Coordinator for Sheridan College’s Women Flag Football Team, which plays in the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association.  Alysha has been an advocate for women in football and volunteers in various organizations to help continue its growth.

“Football has become such an integral part of my everyday life and I am thrilled to be a part of developing athletes through the Football Ontario pathway. It has been refreshing to see female grassroot programming in football on the rise and the overall growth of women in sport over the past few years. I think it is critical to have someone passionate about not only coaching but the growth of these athletes and giving them the confidence and skills to succeed at the next level” says Head Coach, Melissa Grieco.

The U18 Girls Flag Program is to be led by Head Coach, Stephanie Thinn. Stephanie is the co-founder of Ottawa Women’s Football and a returning Team Ontario Coach for her third season.

She is dedicated to advancing the sport of flag football at both high-performance and grassroots levels. Her accomplishments during the 2022 and 2023 seasons include securing provincial gold and silver medals, along with three bronze medals at the U16 and U18 National competitions. Stephanie is set to serve as Head Coach/General Manager for the U18 team once more, with the goal of securing a gold medal in 2024.

Stephanis is to be joined by Assistant Coach, Jori Ritchie. Coach Jori has a passion for sports that comes with a lot of experience at regional, national, and international events. She dedicates her time to keeping participants active for life. Her experience with football starts with being a cofounder for Ottawa Women’s football, where she coaches the U18 Hawks team. Jori has coached the U18’s at two national events and is excited to be working with the 2024 group of athletes in the pursuit to bring back gold in 2024.

“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to coach the best in our province once again. Coaching, for me, is all about establishing a safe space for athletes to achieve their greatness. If you’ve been coached by me before, you’ve heard me say: empower each other, trust each other, and crush the competition. Be a selfless athlete and know your teammates and coaches are here to support you. These fundamental principles will guide us on the path to greatness.” says Head Coach, Stephanie Thinn.

The U16 Girls Flag Program is to be led by Head Coach, Thalia Wright. With 15+ years playing experience, and local/regional championships coaching success, Thalia brings a strategic “one step at a time” mindset.

A versatile multi-sport athlete, her diverse training approach ensures a competitive edge for the team. Thalia’s leadership promises success for the squad, combining skill, strategy, and resilience

Thalia is to be joined by Assistant Coach, Cassandra Cantarutti. Cassandra discovered flag football in university and fell in love with all aspects of football on the Queen’s University Women’s Flag Football Team. On this team, her passion for women’s football flourished. After she finished my teaching degree, Cassandra was able to combine her love for football as well as education and she returned to Queen’s as an assistant coach on the offensive line. 

Cassandra also joined the coaching roster for the newly established Kingston Sharks Women’s Tackle Football Team in their inaugural year. The team displayed great commitment and potential for growth in the coming years. She is incredibly proud to be able to witness and participate in the development of women’s football in her community and provincially.

The U14 Girls Flag Program is to be led by Head Coach, Kate Brandon. Coach Kate boasts a rich history in collegiate-level Rugby and Flag Football. As the founder of Bluewater Flag Football, she takes pride in witnessing over 250 youth and adult athletes embrace the sport.

Currently, Kate is thrilled to assume the role of head coach for the U14 Ontario Women’s Flag Football team. Her passion for the game is evident as she eagerly anticipates meeting athletes from across Ontario and curating a stellar team. With her extensive sports background and dedication, Kate aims to foster talent while spreading her love for Flag Football among aspiring athletes.

Coach Kate is to be joined on the staff by Assistant Coach, Lauren Mulkerns. Lauren currently serves as the Head Coach for the University of Guelph Women’s Flag Football team and defensive captain for her touch football team.  She is a leader in supporting women in male dominated fields and developing athletes new to football. Lauren believes that, “excellence comes from what we do when no one is looking.”

“Unleash your passion, show your strength, and let your game speak volumes. It’s time to leave it all on the field and showcase the world what fierce female flag football athletes are made of!” says Head Coach, Kate Brandon. 

Football Ontario is excited to have these talented and experienced women lead the Team Ontario Program in 2024 The organization believes these are the right people to lead the players to a successful year and a success at Nationals in their home province.

“I’m thrilled to announce our Team Ontario Women’s Flag coaches for 2024. I am confident that we have selected the top coaches in the province to develop our high performance women and girls’ flag program, and to begin building pathways for our athletes to compete at the 2028 Olympics in LA. I am eager to work alongside these talented coaches to provide opportunities for young female flag athletes across the province, to compete at the national tournament in Kingston this spring.” says Emily Todd, Director of Development and Administration with Football Ontario.


WATERLOO REGISTRATION – January 13, 2024 (Women/Girls)

YORK REGISTRATION – January 27, 2024 (Women/Girls)

CARLETON REGISTRATION – February 17, 2024 (Women/Girls)

ABOUT FOOTBALL ONTARIO: Football Ontario is the sanctioned provincial governing body for football in Ontario, through its focus on transparency, growth, alignment and excellence, is engaged in providing football opportunities for all of Ontario. Football Ontario is driven by a commitment to deliver football programming, opportunities and resources for its members and the provincial football stakeholders. Please visit: