Teams Set Rivalry Aside, Leave Impact at Day for Kids
By Michaelea Neal
Florida Citrus Sports
The Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles took a break from Cheez-It Bowl preparation to spend time with local children during the Day for Kids event at Fun Spot America – Orlando.
Both teams connected with local kids from the West Lakes community on Tuesday for a morning of rides, fun and giving back. Florida State head coach Mike Norvell enjoyed being able to see both teams come together for a common cause and to make a positive impact on the community’s youth.
“That’s what bowl games are all about,” Norvell said. “Being able to make an impact and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Both Norvell and Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables made sure their players recognized the importance of connecting with other players and how it was a good thing for them to do. Norvell complimented how both teams took advantage of the chance to give back and serve together during this event.
“As you go through college foo,tball it’s the relationships you build, the people that you meet, the experiences that you get to have that make it special,” Norvell said.
Venables explained that connecting with players from other teams allows them to put their competitive juices to the side and to see a new perspective. He felt this event was a great change-up from their bowl game preparation.
“You never know how the world works from relationships and down the road, whether it’s in coaching or business,” Venables said. “It’s always good to be able to network and to know the face behind the helmet, if you will.”
For Florida State wide receiver Ja’Khi Douglas, bonding with his teammates and having the opportunity to interact with the kids was his favorite part of the Seminoles’ trip to Orlando.
“I got a chance to see these kids, and they had a smile on their faces, and they put a smile on all our faces,” Douglas said.
Florida State defensive tackle Robert Cooper enjoyed getting to ride rollercoasters for the first time. He took advantage of the opportunity and learned some techniques. Cooper was able to bond with the kids and leave a lasting impact on them.
“It was actually special to me, just because it was my first time, but I had a kid named Cooper,” Cooper said. “It wasn’t his first time, so it was he kind of like he took me under his wing.”
The Cheez-It Bowl marks Oklahoma linebacker David Ugwoegbu’s first time in Orlando. He was paired up with a child whose grandparents built some of the amusement park, so he learned all about the rides, the slingshot and the alligators.
“The experience was great,” Ugwoegbu said. “We got paired up with some kids out here from the area, and they showed me a great time, just a great feeling to share that you impact other kids and impact other people outside of the sport.”
This event is one of Fun Spot America owner John Arie Jr.’s favorite days in Orlando because they get to bring together a community. These teams come to together for Lift Orlando, the kids that may not have this opportunity, Arie Jr. said.
“When you see these kids today and they’re smiling from ear to ear, it’s huge,” Arie Jr. said. “It’s huge, truly is.”