Members of the 2009-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Student Advisory Board (SAB) have spent the past year serving the Bay area community in a variety of ways. Last week, the Buccaneers decided it was time that these hard-working students were on the receiving end of a good deed.
On Thursday, Head Coach Raheem Morris, kicker Connor Barth, center Jonathan Compas and the Buccaneers community relations staff surprised the Board members at a nearby Pin Chasers for a night of bowling and fun as a thank you to the dedicated students for their hard work and leadership in the community.
"For our community, these are the guys that are helping us, so we want to help them," said Morris. "They have already given so much of their life at a young age, being in high school and having the ability to sacrifice for community service and for us. You can't get a better reason to come out and see these guys and just enjoy time with them."
The Student Advisory Board, which is annually comprised of 40 sophomores, juniors and seniors from local high schools, has become an integral part of the team's outreach efforts since it was first formed by the Buccaneers' forward-thinking community relations department a decade ago. The council was created in an effort to bring together intelligent, energetic and motivated students to perform community service projects, create Buccaneer spirit in local schools and develop leadership skills in preparation for continuing education.
On Thursday, the students' spirit spread throughout the lanes as laughter and camaraderie filled the bowling alley. For senior Peter Hernandez, the event was a perfect end to an experience that provided him with lifelong lessons and memories.
"SAB really opened my eyes, widened my perspective and gave me a greater appreciation for things that I had never experienced before," said Hernandez. "The beach cleanup, Metropolitan Ministries – it all opened my eyes to things that I had never experienced socially. It gave me a greater appreciation for the way that my parents took care of me, and it told me not to take things for granted because not everyone necessarily has it as good as I do."
Those opportunities have included such outreach activities as visiting retirement communities, participating in beach and park cleanups, renovating houses and assisting at a variety of the Buccaneers' community relations events.
Hernandez's volunteer hours have extended beyond service projects, however. The second-term member has assisted the Buccaneers' community relations staff on a weekly basis at team headquarters. The senior, who will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, was one of two SAB "veterans" to receive special recognition from Morris for his efforts over the past two years. Hernandez and Billy Embody, a senior moving on to Southern Methodist University, were presented with autographed footballs that included personal inscriptions from Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik.
"That was icing on the cake," said Hernandez. "Having Coach Morris present me with the ball was definitely an experience that I will not forget. Just knowing that the coach will take time out of his busy schedule to present me the ball made me feel very special, and I was very grateful that he took that time out. I just cannot say enough about the opportunity that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have provided me and it's definitely something that I will carry on with me no matter where my journey takes me."
First formed during the NFL's offseason in 1999, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Student Advisory Board has been aiding the Bay area community and spreading Buccaneer spirit for 11 years. Along with participating in service projects, SAB members also attend Buccaneer home games either as team representatives or enthusiastic fans. At each game, half of the council members work as customer service representatives in the East and West Club Lounges of Raymond James Stadium while the rest of the members enjoy the opportunity to relax and be fans for the day.
"When you get the experience of the Student Advisory Board, you are up close and personal with such a big organization," said Embody. "You get a chance to see all the people working together to make the organization run really smooth. It was just a really great experience that I will never forget."
Though the '09-10 term has come to an end, SAB activities for the upcoming year are just getting started. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently looking for members for their 2010-2011 Board. To apply, click here.
Applications must be submitted by June 12, 2010. All qualified candidates will then be interviewed at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa from June 21-24. Interviews will last approximately 15 minutes and are set up on a first-come, first-served basis. As part of the online process, applicants will be asked to submit an essay of 1,500 words or less that describes the positive qualities he or she possesses and the experiences he or she has had that would enhance the Student Advisory Board. For more information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Student Advisory Board, call 813-870-2700 ext. 2274.