FAMU’s championship flag football team flies under the radar

Marvin Green Jr., a Florida A&M grad, has made himself well known within FAMU athletics. In addition to his duties as an assistant athletic director, he has coached the SimplyMarvelous flag football team since 1995 and it has won 10 national championships to date. Although the team has received considerable credit for its success from sports organizations, the players believe they haven’t received the acknowledgment due to them from the university.

When asked why he continuously had the passion to coach this team, Green said, “It’s a labor of love. Initially when I started out, I was just trying to give young ladies an opportunity on campus to have recreation in a different way. A lot of times, a lot of girls like football and watching football, but typically don’t get a chance to play a lot.”

After starting a dorm league on campus, Green realized that many of the women had athletic ability.

“I decided that we should put together a FAMU All-Star team and see how we could compete against other schools. We went to Gainesville for our first Swamp Bowl in 1995 and lost in the quarterfinals, but I told the girls if they stuck with it, we would come back better. The next years after that: 96, 97, 98, 99, we won four Swamp Bowls in a row and was the best team in the state of Florida.”

 It’s difficult to downplay Green’s reputation. “We represented well every year in the national tournament in New Orleans,” he added. “We always finished within the top four or five teams and made it to a championship in 1999.”

Following that victory, SimplyMarvelous was chosen to represent the United Sates in the World Cup in Cancun, Mexico in 2000.

After much success, Green took a break from coaching and returned in 2007. “It was totally different then. You could tell the girls had more football sense because they had started playing in high school.”

Green had a totally new team and had to get back in the groove. That didn’t take long.

“After ups and downs that year (2007), we won a national championship. In 2008, we finished runner-up. Then in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, we won four back to back national championships. I guess you could say the rest is history because at that point, our name was etched in stone. For the last five years we’ve finished runner-up three times, so we’re still one of the top two or three teams in the country.”

When asked how the team stays successful, Green responded, “I humbly say it’s coaching. You have a leader who dedicates themselves to it. The girls want to be attached to something, but you have to have somebody that represents the glue. Coach Red (Derrick Folson), who has been with me since day one and the Director of Recreation and Intramural sports at TCC, Marcus St. Phard, keep up with the practices and make sure they’re there for the team when I can’t be. They keep the girls up and running.  We have guys that make sure the legacy continues.”

SimplyMarvelous has earned its recognition, but FAMU hasn’t delivered. Christina Mattis, a red-shirt senior who plays quarterback and free safety, said, “Unfortunately, the only thing that hurts me the most is the recognition that Coach Green and Coach Folson don’t get. For the past decade, this dynamic duo has brought the campus of FAMU 10 national championships and produced winning seasons every year, but rarely do you hear Coach Green or Coach Folson getting the recognition that they deserve. I just wish FAMU would support our football program just like any other sport that represents this prestigious institution.”

Sydney-Taylor Heyward agrees. “It would be very special to have a group of talented, athletic women recognized for their achievements and amazing skill set.” said the senior wide receiver and cornerback.

Green knows how much this team means to his players and understands that they have all formed unforgettable relationships. “My girls come here, have a good time, it’s a great experience. The sisterhood, the time that they spend together, the relationships they’ve developed, those are the things they’ll never forget. While it’s good that we’ve been successful, what I’m most proud of is that the girls come to FAMU, get a quality education, graduate, and become productive women of society.”

The impact that he has made on the student-athletes is one to take note of. Aaliyah Barrington, a former SimplyMarvelous player said, “I feel like Coach is a true vet in the game of flag football. He’s a great coach and an even better man off the field. He’s been like a father to me and so many other girls, and I appreciate him.”

While assuring that his team is taken care of personally, Green continuously has a championship mentality.

 “When we travel, the crowds are big,” Green said.  “Everybody knows our name and wants to see us play. This team was put together to play on Sundays. The championship games are always on Sundays.

 “This isn’t the Girl Scouts. This team wins championships. We protect the brand that we’ve created over the years,” he added.

When asked what made him a proud coach, Green said, “I feel proud because the thing about sports is that we say it’s not about winning or losing, but you want to prove that what you’ve been working on works. With us recently finishing in second a lot, it’s built us up more than the championships.” Green takes the most pride in coaches approaching him and saying that they’re doing their best to get their girls to reflect SimplyMarvelous.

“You appreciate the journey being around flag football for 20 plus years. I appreciate the girls are champions in life, not just champions in flag football,” said Green.