GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – More than 90 high school athletes and coaches gathered to participate in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Garden Grove, Calif., Dec. 31-Jan. 5.
Throughout the bowl week, the elite high school football players had opportunities to engage with Marines and the community. The Marines’ focus was to reinforce the applicability of the Marine Corps’ core values of honor, courage, and commitment to success both on and off the gridiron.
The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl is unique because it brings together high school-athletes from across the country that were selected for being some of the most talented football players in the nation, as well as, high-academic performers and leaders in their communities. Unlike other similar East vs. West high school bowl games, the Semper Fi Bowl offers a unique experience for players to attend and participate in several activities prior to game day. These efforts reinforce the Marines core values and extend beyond physical athleticism.
“You’re all standouts on your teams, and you’re among the very best in high school football throughout the country,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Bierman Jr., commanding general of Western Recruiting Region and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, at the bowl’s welcome aboard address. “That commitment to excellence is what we as Marines stand for, and all of you exemplify that. Those intangibles are something you can all take back to your schools and communities.”
As players arrived on December 31, they went through a thorough registration, orientation and gear issue.
“When the players arrived they were issued everything from cleats and pads to a helmet and uniforms designed specifically for this event,” said Lt. Col. Raphael Hernandez, assistance chief-of-staff for advertising for Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “They also received uniforms to wear during practices and on their off time to showcase that they are representing the United States Marine Corps.”
The bowl week continued with four days of team practices including drills, team lunches and warm-ups led by Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego drill instructors.
“As far as practice, it could not be any better,” said Hernandez. “The players came here with their game faces on and have the heart and determination to make it a great game Sunday.”
Though the players endured tough team practices, they were also allotted the opportunity to attend unit cohesion events throughout the week including a community service project.
Ryeshene Bronson, 6-foot, 3-inch, 180 pound wide receiver from Dunbar High School, Fort Myers, FL, is among those selected to participate.
“This is my first opportunity to come to California,” said Bronson. “I am excited to work on becoming a better person and a better athlete.”
The student athletes selected for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl exhibit a drive similar to Bronson in that they have more than outstanding athletic ability – they also exemplify youth leadership and are committed to building life skills both on and off the field.
“We are learning respect for others and discipline,” according to Bronson. “The Marines and coaches are working really hard for us, and by the end of the week hopefully we can make them proud.”
According to Hernandez, the unit events were designed to provide the teams an opportunity to get to know each other.
“They are coming together from all over the country and they have to play together,” said Hernandez. “It was important that the Marine Corps provided them an opportunity to find ways to socialize and at the same time enjoy what Southern California has to offer.”
The community service project itself was designed to expose the All-American athletes to the community, said Hernandez.
“The project was to be able to provide the players the opportunity to give back and interact with young children, our future leaders,” said Hernandez. “It was a fun event designed to showcase what our program is all about, which is developing young men of character on and off the field and also provide the American public the opportunity to interact with their United States Marine Corps.”
The weeklong engagement that is Semper Fidelis Bowl week leads up to the nationally-televised Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
The 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl will be held on January 5, 2014 at 6 p.m. PST in Carson, Calif. The game will be played at the StubHub Center and aired live on Fox Sports 1.
For more information and to follow the athletes throughout the week, visit the following web pages: