Dozens of local kids and coaches, along with local gridiron legend Mike Alstott, attended the third annual Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg NCAA Youth Football Clinic at the Joe DiMaggio Complex on Friday.
And despite a lower than expected turnout for the free event, organizers and participants were pleased with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the kids and the coaches.
“Last year we probably had 120-130 kids, this year we’ve had about 35-40 kids," Brett Dulaney, executive director of the Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, said. "But we live in Florida and there's a lot of things to do, so it's to be expected.
“But as long as these kids that are here have fun and get something out of it, then I’m happy.”
After Alstott, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback and current Northside Christian High School head coach, spoke to the kids, they were put through drills run by coaches from the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, Jacksonville University and Wiregrass Ranch High School.
The attendees, each between the ages of 5 and 14, were broken up into groups and sent to stations to work on offense, defense and agility skills.
The kids and their parents didn’t seem to mind the smaller turnout either, as they had more attention devoted to them individually.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids, especially since it’s free,” said Andre Simmons, an Atlanta resident who brought his 7-year-old son, Miles. “To attach a name like Alstott’s to it really legitimizes it.”
And what does the former Buc, who is an honorary chairman for the Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, think of the event?
“Kids that are here and take advantage of this opportunity are very fortunate. There weren’t these opportunities when I was growing up,” Alstott said.
“I think kids need to be involved in sports, not just football, but team sports in general,” he added. “They learn about discipline, character and how to work together in adverse times.
“They need to learn that it’s not all about ‘me’, it’s all about ‘team’. That’s going to help them transition into being a better person.”