Pulling Strings: The Coaches Behind Powder Puff


Keeva Linton

The calm before the storm: Senior Ben Song patrols the sideline as his team looks to impress.

North Atlanta’s annual Powder Puff game, a competitive tournament-style flag football game, has been the talk of the town this past week. The always-passionate and competitive girls (and guys) are ready to duke it out for a chance at ultimate bragging rights. The teams, made up of nearly 50 girls, are all representing their respective classes. Coaches are senior boys who willingly volunteer hours on end for a chance of victory, leading the girls to a title. The coaches, who are just as competitive as the actual players on the field, will compete against fellow coaches, many of whom are their friends. With dignity and bragging rights on the line, trash talk between play-callers is at its peak. The competitive environment brings out the best—and sometimes the worst—in both players and coaches.

The freshman team is led by seniors Ben Song and Dubs football starter Charlie Grier. Despite being the youngest girls in the school, the two are optimistic about their chances. Their path to a championship requires two upsets; first against the sophomores, then the winner of the junior-senior matchup. Song and Grier are working around the clock to teach and gameplan because they know it’s championship or bust. Practicing multiple times before the event (including weekends), the first-timers are ready for an upset. “Watch these girls pull up and shock the world.” said coach Ben Song. “We are ready.”

The sophomore team is led by two-time coach Ryan Hohenstein and his co-play-caller, Matthew Maiellaro. The two have been leading practices and game planning day and night, including a physical playbook (that may or may not be on top of a Waffle House menu). Attempting to lead the underclassman to the championship, Maiellaro and Hohenstein have allegedly practiced more than any other team. According to Hohenstein, they are prepared and ready for war. “We have given up early mornings and late nights,” he said. “The other teams can’t compete. We are taking the dub.”

Hunter Davis and Trey Fox are the leaders of the junior squad. These coaches are leading the reigning champions. Coming into the event as heavy favorites, these coaches are still putting in work to secure their team’s title. These coaches have scheduled and completed multiple practices before and after school. “We will repeat,” said Coach Fox. “Watch us show up and show out. A sweep is not the goal. It is the plan.” 

Coaches Mac Perno and Jonathan French lead the way for the seniors. The only coaches that have the luxury of coaching for their own grade, this duo is ready to guide the Powder Puff veterans to victory. To encourage their classmates to show up to morning practices, they have gone as far as purchasing 30 Chick-Fil-A biscuits for the girls. They claim that the strong chemistry will lead them to victory. The class of ’23’ has one more shot at the Powder Puff championship and is aiming to capitalize. “We are going to bring a ‘ship back home to our senior class,” said coach Mac Perno. “We deserve it.”