Stagg flag football coach Saja Alnajjar received two tickets to the Super Bowl from the Chicago Bears. District 230 photo

Stagg flag football coach Saja Alnajjar received two tickets to the Super Bowl from the Chicago Bears. District 230 photo

Area Sports Report | Stagg flag football coach invited to Super Bowl

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Saja Alnajjar said she became a football fan growing up, and one of the first games she watched was Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts in February 2007.

Little did she know then that she would someday be a football coach.

And little did she know that she would be invited to attend a Super Bowl.

The Stagg teacher, who helped form and coach the school’s first girls flag football team, received recognition as a Community Difference Maker along with two tickets to Super Bowl LVIII, which will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 11.

The game tickets were donated by the Chicago Bears, and were presented to Alnajjar at the first girls flag football All-State Dinner, hosted by the Bears.

Alnajjar put a team together quickly for the fall season and nearly 60 players tried out. The team finished 4-4 but qualified for the state quarterfinals, which were held at the Bears training facility in Halas Hall.

“We won a few. We lost a few and the girls got better every week,” Almajjar said in a news release. “Despite the outcomes of the games, they did their best and built on their skills each and every week.”

Two District 230 players were recognized for all-state, as Stagg’s Hala Othman was named to the second team and Sandburg’s Nola Oben was named as an honorable mention.

 

Malham back in fold
The Chicago Red Stars have been quiet when it comes to announcing personnel moves this offseason, but Taylor Malham was signed to a 2024 contract with a club option for 2025.

Malham joined the Red Stars during preseason training this year as a non-roster invitee and worked to earn a spot on the final roster and a one-year contract with the club.

Malham’s regular-season debut came in July when the defender stepped in for Tatumn Milazzo who was a last-minute scratch from the starting lineup.

Malham finished the match ranking in the top five of Red Stars in completed passes (21), tied for aerial duels won (3) in a clean-sheet effort for the team.

Malham finished 2023 with three regular-season appearances and two starts.

 

Hounds still plan to play
In recent months, Major League Rugby lost Toronto and New York, and there is some media speculation that Atlanta could be next, leaving some question marks for the league to try to answer.

The Chicago Hounds, which play their home games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, are planning to play their second season in MLR, according to a statement from Owner Peter Bernick.

“In light of the dissolution of both Toronto and New York, it feels only appropriate to underline our continued full commitment to Major League Rugby, Chicago and the Midwest,” Bernick wrote.

“While the sad instances in Toronto and New York are unique in their reasoning it doesn’t take away from the countless staff, players and players families who will be affected by the news. We are intent on supporting as many players, and their families, as we can.

“We remain excited and committed as we have ever been about rugby in America and Major League Rugby. We believe in our partners and are excited to continue building. We are only just starting.”

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