By Dona FairJanuary 4, 2008
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Army News Service, Jan. 4, 2008) - Continuing a long-standing tradition before the kickoff of the U.S. Army-sponsored "All-American" Bowl high school all-star football game, the representative Soldier Heroes met with their player counterparts for an evening of barbeque and Texas-style rodeo.
The barbecue gave the Soldier Heroes, high school football players, members of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, future All-American high school football players, and family members the opportunity to get acquainted prior to this Saturday's nationally-televised all-star high school football contest in the Alamodome. Entertainment included a small rodeo demonstration of bull riding and barrel racing and music provided by The U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own.
The Yoast Award, given to the coach of the year, was presented to Coach Roger Barta, a 30-year Smith Center, Kansas, football coaching veteran with seven state championships under his belt.
In attendance were the All-American Bowl ambassadors, Herman Boone and William "Bill" Yoast, former high school football coaches at T.C. Williams High School, best known for being featured in the 200 film, "Remember the Titans." The movie is about the 1971 13-0 season when the school became integrated and how the coaches worked through their differences and their players to win the state title.
Also in attendance was Medal of Honor Winners retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady and retired Marine Corps Sgt. Robert O'Malley, and Vince F. Papale, a former member of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, and the inspiration for the 2006 Disney movie, "Invincible" starring Mark Wahlberg.
The attendees were welcomed by Rich McGinnis, president of Sportslink, who eight years ago, had the vision to start this joint venture with the U.S. Army and turn it into the premier high school football contest in the nation.
Following Mr. McGinnis's welcome, Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of the U.S. Army Accessions Command, relayed to those in attendance of how this week is about teamwork, values and having a 'never quit attitude.' He stressed the importance for all of those who were participating in this week's event to not blow the opportunities that have been given to them; showcase their talents this weekend before the country, and to "stand Army Strong now and forever."
(Dona Fair works with the Army & Air Force Hometown News Service)