Smiles. Hugs. Cheers. Positivity. This was the overall theme for the 2014 Baby Bowl competition. Yes, there were wins and loses, but the greater accomplishment was the sportsmanship and support of the players and organizations. “It’s really cool to see all the parents and family and the love we have for our children. It’s a positive time for these kids and our city too.” said Crystal McNeely, parent of a West 7 Rams football player. Detroit PAL’s Baby Bowl was just a reminder of the great things happening in our city and more importantly the great things to come in the lives of our future generation.
This years Baby Bowl was held at Northwestern High School in Detroit, MI and included 24 D- Team (7-8 year old) football organizations from Detroit PAL. The Baby Bowl, which has been around for more than a decade allows our youngest football players the ability to showcase their talent and spirit. And with the new edition of Flag Football, now even the five year olds have a chance to learn the beloved game of football. By expanding the age limit, Detroit PAL is allowing an opportunity for more guidance and mentorship for individuals who otherwise might not receive it. Panthers coach Ed Wedsson explained, “The development of our youth players is good to see. The improvement from day in and day out comes on and off the field. We get a chance to be coaches and father figures. Some of our players don’t have that at home, so we step up and help out.” But this sentiment does not just apply in one organization in PAL. Team mom for the Broncos, Nicole McMillion-Bennett said, “The Broncos organization has a lot of coaches that provide father type of guidance and create awesome young men!” Site monitor James Fleming echoed that sentiment, “The program is very helpful for the kids. Its keeps them out of trouble and builds character and discipline.”
While some may look at Detroit PAL as simply an athletic league, it operates and functions as so much more. Detroit PAL teaches sportsmanship, allows an opportunity for confidence, responsibility, and positive outlets for thousands of individuals. And the Baby Bowl is just another reminder of just how impactful Detroit PAL truly is. An uncle for the West 7 Rams Demetrius McNeely, noted, “This team has really helped with my nephews confidence. He used to be very quiet, now you can just see a huge change in him. He wants to go outside more and he is a lot more talkative. And I definitely think this football team had a lot to do with that. And a mother for the Eastside Falcons had similar feelings. Ieesha Jefferson said, “The coaches are awesome. He really did not want to play, but they changed his mindset. Now he has Falcon fever.”
2014’s Baby Bowl was surely a sight to see. To see the discipline and eagerness of our youngsters, which was topped off by the leadership of coaches and volunteers, it’s no wonder why Detroit PAL continues to grow and receive such high accolades.
In addition to our Baby Bowl, our competition season will also include the highly anticipated Cheerleading Competition, which will be Saturday October 26, 2014, at Callahan Hall and the Football Championships, November 2, 2014 at Ford Field. Doors open at 9 am for both events. Detroit PAL hopes to see you there! To see more pictures from this year’s Baby Bowl, view our Flicrkr page.