The Buccaneers Women's Organization took to the field Sunday at the Trop to raise funds for two worthy charities
The day after a game in the NFL is one of rest, so Tampa Bay Buccaneers players were taking it easy on Sunday following their 24-23 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night. Their wives, however, were in the thick of competition, playing another hard-fought game that came down to the wire.
The jerseys still read "Barber," "Clayton" and "Winslow" but the sound of colliding helmets was replaced by the crack of the bat as many of the Bucs' better halves laced up their cleats in the name of giving back Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
In what was dubbed the "Clash of the Cleats," 24 members of the Buccaneers Women's Organization took to the diamond at the Trop for a friendly softball competition against wives of the Tampa Bay Rays. The charity event, which is expected to kick off an annual sports challenge between the two like-minded groups, was organized to benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation and the 1Voice Foundation.
No matter who won, the game was sure to be a victory for local youth programs and families battling childhood cancer. Still, it was clear that both sides were motivated to come out on top on the scoreboard, as well.
"We had an absolute blast today," said Amy Dominik, wife of Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik. "You could tell all of the competition was coming out. Everybody was very excited. We definitely wanted to win the game."
The Women's Organization, compiled of wives and fiancées of the Bucs' players, coaches and staff, participates in charitable functions and community service projects throughout the year. Sunday's competition was the first of its kind between the Bucs and Rays, and one that numerous Buccaneers made sure not to miss.
Former Buccaneer fullback Mike Alstott, cornerback Ronde Barber, punter Josh Bidwell, wide receiver Michael Clayton, running back Earnest Graham, defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson and tight end Kellen Winslow were just some of the Bucs in attendance to watch their wives in action.
"They support us so much as far as being our wives and for what they do out in the community, so for them to get a chance to play a little bit and have the roles reversed, it was good for everybody," said Graham. "It was a great game. It came down to the wire. There was some pretty impressive fielding and hitting out there, so I thought it was fun."
Despite a 6-5 loss in extra innings, Dominik was encouraged by her team's efforts and hopes to even the series next year when it comes across the bay for a flag football game on the Bucs' home turf.
"We're already excited for next year's game," said Dominik. "We're going to be ready to play. We'll take them on and should definitely have a good showing."
The Rays Baseball Foundation supports youth and education programs that make an impact in the Tampa Bay region. The 1Voice Foundation assists families that have faced or are currently battling childhood cancer by providing information, financial assistance, care and support. 1Voice works directly with organizations, hospitals, research facilities and families within the childhood cancer community to build programs that address the various needs that exist.
"For the Rays as well as the Bucs to step up and help us support our vision, it's just unbelievable," said Graham, who serves on the Board of Directors for the 1Voice Foundation. "But that's the type of community that the Tampa Bay community is. So it's definitely a big help for a great cause. Next year they'll be playing a football game at One Buc which will be fun, so hopefully our side can get a win next year."