ALBERTVILLE — Faith Burden made history this week by becoming one of the first high school athletes in Alabama to sign a deal to play flag football at the collegiate level.

Burden has been a standout player on Albertville High School's (AHS) inaugural girls flag football team. On Tuesday, she signed her letter of intent to play for Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Burden's life has been centered around ministry and sports. Through an organization called InBounds Ministries, she's been able to travel the United States and recently got to teach and share the Gospel in Budapest.

Her ministry travels eventually led her and her family to LifePoint Church in Albertville. There, pastor Quinton Williams, who is also the head Aggies flag football coach, approached Burden and asked her to try out for the school's team.

Not one to shy away from competition, she accepted and soon fell in love with the game.

"She had offers from two other universities as well on top of Keiser, so that just speaks to the testament of Burden's ability as an athlete, as a women's flag football player," offensive coordinator Anthony Burgess said. "Long journey, I'm sure, for her. It's been stressful, but I couldn't be more proud of how she's handled this entire situation."

Burden has also signed an NIL deal (name, image, likeness) with Sand Mountain Park and will be doing appearances and promotions at the park during her college athletic career.

AHS athletic director Matthew Lambert said, "This is a big deal not just because you're the first girl to sign a flag football scholarship, but there's statistics out there that say only six or seven percent of high school athletes ever play anything after high school. That's saying a lot that you're doing something that very very few kids get to do "

Burden said she's excited to play for the Sea Hawks and pave the way for more female athletes in the growing sport to do the same. But more than anything, she said she wants to use her position and platform to continue her ministry and point others to Christ.

"I've said to myself this whole time, if this doesn't become an outlet for me to reach people with my testimony and for God to use me then I don't want to be a part of it," Burden said. "So I want this to be my platform to reach people, not only for sports and athletics but for Christ to use me."

Williams, Burgess and Lambert were all in agreement that as good a football player as Burden is, she's an even better person and role model on and off the field.

"It's really exciting to see someone who has that type of spirit taking it to a sport on a collegiate level. We're super excited about that," Williams said.

AHS received a grant from the Atalanta Falcons football team to start its own flag football program. After hearing of Burden's success, Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder sent a short video message to congratulate her.

"Congrats on such a huge accomplishment," he said.

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