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How Rylen Bourguet plans to go from high school athlete to flag football Olympian

Growing up around football her entire life, Rylen is aiming to make a name for herself in the flag football world with her hopes set for the 2028 Olympics


ASU freshman Rylen Bourguet playing flag football for Tucson Turf Elite Football at the Southwest Showdown tournament in Goodyear on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.

The last name Bourguet is one that many ASU fans will recognize. 

The two oldest Bourguet brothers, Trenton Bourguet — who started for the better part of two seasons as quarterback for the Sun Devils and remains the last quarterback to defeat Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the regular season — and Coben Bourguet, who is also on the Sun Devil football team. Her youngest college-aged brother, Treyson Bourguet, is also a rising football star, having just transferred from Western Michigan to BYU.  

Even though those three may be the most well-known Bourguets, their sister, Rylen Bourguet, is making major noise in the world of flag football and has her eyes set on the 2028 Olympic games in LA. 

Rylen first started playing football when she was five years old. Rylen was inspired by her family to begin her flag football journey from a very young age; motivated by her  three older brothers and her dad, who is the president and coach for Tucson Turf Elite Football.

Tuscon Turf is a travel football program that focuses on football and flag football, specifically with boys and girls from 5 to 18 years old participating.

"I've coached her since she started playing, and my kids grew up watching me play," her father, Toby Bourguet, said. "So I tried to make sure I emulated the type of behavior that I wanted my kids to emulate when they competed. I wasn’t just telling her how to behave, I was actually showing my kids how to behave in those moments where you're in the heat of competition, but still keeping control of your emotions, and competing at a high level, and being a leader and a good person."

During her first seven years of playing flag football, there was no girl's league for Rylen to play in. But instead of giving up on her favorite sport, she not only played on a boy's team but also in the age division her older brothers played in, giving her the ability to improve her skills in a unique and beneficial way.

"It was an advantage for her because the game was a lot faster," Coben said. "So that boosted her athletic ability, and when she is playing with all girls, she's almost miles ahead of them because she's been playing at a faster speed with boy athletes."

These skills became crucial when she finally was able to be in an all-girls league at age 13. Her team went to nationals three years in a row and won two of three championships. 

Even though Rylen's flag football career was on fire in her early teen years, she gave up the sport when she started high school as she did not think she could pursue it after graduation. 

But even though she stopped playing football, her athletic success did not stop. 

During her four years at Salpointe Catholic High School, Rylen won an astonishing seven state championships across three different sports, with three state championships in soccer, three in beach volleyball and one in indoor volleyball.

"Being a multi-sport athlete has helped me on and off the field with leadership skills, dealing with different types of teammates and different types of coaches," Rylen said. "When it comes to skill, soccer helps with speed, volleyball helps with jumping, and coming from playing sand volleyball to a field where I have cleats, it makes me a lot quicker on my feet."

After high school, Rylen signed with the Arizona State beach volleyball team, but a major announcement changed her athletic career path and brought her back to football. 

"It was announced that flag football is going to be in the 2028 Olympics," Rylen said. "That's a huge platform — the highest level of competition for any athlete in any sport. So if I had the opportunity to pursue a sport that I've loved since I was five at the Olympic level, that's a dream come true for anyone."

The process to be selected for the Olympic team in 2028 is a long one that Rylen has already started. 

That process consists of a virtual trial where applicants need to send in an application describing their flag football experience as well as a video of skills such as a 20-yard dash and your maximum number of pushups, Rylen said.

In preparation, Rylen is continuing to work hard and bring up her football IQ with Tucson Turf, a skill she said sets her apart from other athletes, through competing against the best rivals she can find.

After less than three months of playing again, Rylen's Tucson Turf team had a 46-1 record and won seven of their eight tournaments, leading Rylen to be a finalist for the national female player of the year. 

"We seek out the best competition in the nation, and we go and find that, and we play against them," Toby said. "So win or lose, if you're competing against great competition, you're inevitably going to get better. Those who do not seek superior competition will be stuck at whatever standard they're at."

Even against the best competition, Rylen continues to stay extremely competitive and determined to win and reach her goals while attending ASU.

When asked what has made Rylen the athlete she is today, Coben said "her competitive nature and her determination to win and accept nothing less, but (also her) understanding that you win with humility and lose with dignity."

"She's not going to get used to losing. If you lose, you accept it but learn from it," he said. "And Rylen's drive to continue to win sport after sport and year after year is what I think makes her, her."

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Grace Copperthite.

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