YUMA, Ariz. — The Blinn College football team had a special opportunity to give back to the community hosting the El Toro Bowl by spending the afternoon with students at Ron Watson Middle School in Yuma, Ariz. prior to the game.
"The players loved it because they like mentoring kids, and the kids loved it because they got to spend time with a college football team," Blinn football coach Ryan Mahon said. "We were 20 hours away from Brenham, but seeing all the blue and white made us feel like we were back at home."
The team visited students in their classrooms to discuss college athletics and academics before a pep rally in the school gym.
The Buccaneers autographed team photos, handed out eye black stickers to the students, and gave teachers Blinn T-shirts to wear. Students watched Blinn's hype video for the El Toro Bowl followed by a question-and-answer session with the team. Defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson, offensive lineman Jamarus Bolding, and Mahon all spoke at the pep rally and invited students to the game.
"It was a great experience to meet new faces and explain to the kids what it is like to be a college athlete and a college student," sophomore Malik Robinson said. "It's something I had never experienced before. To see the kids come out to the game the next day made the whole team happy."
The Ron Watson Middle School cheerleaders showed their support for the Buccaneers with a Blinn cheer routine and then students participated in relay races. Dominique Harrison, Dandre Reed, Daveon Boyd, and Robinson participated with students in the relay races that included biking, sprinting, dribbling and jump roping.
"The pep rally was so much fun because the kids were so happy and it was nice to see their smiling faces," freshman tailback Carlos Grace said. "We got the same reaction from them that we would have in Texas, and that gave us a special feeling."
Several Ron Watson Middle School students and their parents attended the El Toro Bowl football game Saturday to support the No. 10 Buccaneers as they took on No. 6 Snow. Snow rallied from behind to win the game, 43-41.
"It was a long bus ride to Arizona and the second we saw the kids it motivated us," Grace said. "Then when we saw them show up during the pre-game, we all wanted to play hard for them."
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 36 NJCAA national championships since 1987.