Pensacola, Florida
Thursday October 17th 2019

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Outtakes—Soul Bowl Celebration

By Rick Outzen

This weekend, the Southern Youth Sports Association and East Pensacola-Magee Field Rattlers will play at Pensacola Blue Wahoos Stadium in the 28th annual Soul Bowl, a full-day showcase of area youth football and celebration of community unity.

Five age divisions ranging from 6-under to 14-under will be playing on the field. Players and their families will see the players’ faces displayed on the big screen. Each team will have a full complement of cheerleaders. In all, more than 600 children will be on the field.

Inweekly has been involved in the Soul Bowl since 2007 when SYSA co-founder Lumon May invited us to help sponsor and promote a truly grassroots event. When I walked onto Legion Field, I felt like I was back in the Mississippi Delta. Grills were fired up, and they served hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue. The Rattler and Tiger supporters playfully teased each other. I listened to dozens of tales of past great games and plays.

One of the greatest moments was the unity circle when May, community leaders and the coaches for all the teams stood in the middle of the field holding hands. We all stood together as one community, forgetting rivalries and disagreements, showing all the children and their families that we are greater together than apart.

Eight years ago, Quint Studer approached May about moving the Soul Bowl to Blue Wahoos Stadium. Studer wanted the stadium opened to the entire community, not just one segment, and agreed to underwrite the cost to relocate the day-long showcase to the Maritime Park.

I was worried the move would take away the neighborhood aspect and the tailgating of the Soul Bowl. Admittedly, I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to buy any ribs.

May disagreed. He saw using the Blue Wahoos Stadium as an opportunity to let a segment of the population play in the park that never would have a chance to do so without the Soul Bowl. Most of the children would never play or cheer on the college or even on the high school level, but on Soul Bowl weekend, they would all be stars. The players and their families would come to see the Maritime Park as their park, too.

He also figured out a way to add food vendors to serve food outside the gate, so I still got my barbecue ribs. After all, you can’t have a Soul Bowl without ribs.

Gates will open at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. The first game will begin at 8 a.m. The general admission ticket is $9 for all ages. Children 2-under will be admitted free. Re-entry will be allowed by showing the ticket. Please join us.