Each year since it was first formed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999, the Student Advisory Board has given a new group of high school students the opportunity to participate in team events, serve the community and spread team spirit in their schools.
The 2010-11 Board was an excellent example, as it found a variety of ways to impact the Bay area community and interact with the Buccaneers. It was also the last one that will bear the initials "SAB."
Beginning in 2011-12, the dedicated, energetic and motivated students who take part in the ongoing program will be known as Buccaneers Student Ambassadors. As always, they will have the opportunity to tour the team's training facility, learn from important guest speakers and attend Buccaneers home games, either as team representatives or passionate fans.
A total of 40 sophomores, juniors and seniors will be selected to serve as Ambassadors for the next term, and applications are now being accepted by the Buccaneers. Interested young men and women may submit their applications online through Friday June 10. Click here to go directly to the application page.
Before forming its new group of Ambassadors, however, the Buccaneers wanted to provide the outgoing Board with a special thank you. Thus, the 2010-11 SAB's final meeting on Monday was held at a nearby Pin Chasers, where board members enjoyed an evening of pizza and bowling, plus a special visit from Head Coach Raheem Morris.
While the students fired away at the pins, the Buccaneers' enthusiastic coach posed for pictures, handed out autographed mini-footballs and thanked the students for their hard work and service to the community. Morris, whose own community efforts are centered around education, emphasized the impact the members of the 2010-11 SAB have made through the various volunteer programs in which they participated. Morris' words helped the students understand how valuable the SAB/Ambassador program is to the Buccaneers.
"We recognize that community involvement from dedicated students is an important asset for the organization, and we are proud of every one of you guys," he said.
Yanna Pantelis, an SAB "veteran," was thrilled to see everyone together. She spoke of the camaraderie the program brings among its participants and the impression the program has had on her in her second year of involvement.
"This has been an amazing program," said Pantelis. "Being a part of such a large organization with so many good people has been an amazing experience. It is great to see the way we impact the community over the course of the past few years. To see the amount of people the organization has touched is wonderful."
In her second year, Pantelis saw her role with the program expand. Her added experience and leadership skills have given her the opportunity to assist the Buccaneers' community relations staff with projects at team headquarters.
"The experience in this field of work has been amazing," she said. "Being so closely involved with the organization and learning valuable business skills while helping in the community has been unbelievable."
The evening served as a great end to the program for the students, many of whom said the SAB experience will stick with them for a long time. Josh Levinson, a Plant High School senior, was both gracious and humbled by the year-long experience and the surprise visit from Coach Morris.
"Considering how busy Raheem is, it's pretty cool that he took the time to stop by and spend time with us," said Levinson. "The entire program has been very rewarding."
Other students shared their perspectives on the SAB by offering advice and reflecting on some of their favorite memories and experiences from the past year.
"My favorite event was Zoo Boo; it was an event with little kids during Halloween," said Casey Otten, a Chamberlin High junior. "Seeing their faces light up when the [Buccaneers] rookies showed up was so fun. It's unique to see that little things can make such a big difference in a person's life."
Anthony Esposito, a Palm Harbor senior, had some advice for future members.
"Do as many charity events as possible," he said. "You'll be amazed at the impact you can have if you do it for the right reasons."
After the application deadline for the 2011-12 Ambassadors program has passed, qualified candidates will be interviewed at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa from June 20-23. As part of the online application 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 Ambassadors.
For more information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Student Ambassadors, please call 813-870-2700 ext. 2274. Applications may only be submitted online (click here).