May 26, 2013

Raising awareness, and hope, for military families


With Memorial Day as the backdrop, the Brothers in Arms Classic presented by Under Armour is taking action.

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

The proceeds from the inaugural series of high school football games -- to be played from Aug. 20 to Sept. 27 and featuring teams from Alaska to Florida -- will go toward helping families of fallen military attend college and private high schools.


Eric Beach, the chairman of the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, said that the first-of-its-kind event has found a perfect pairing with the local exposure provided by the participating programs and the mission his foundation has adopted.

"There is no greater visual impact than when communities come together to support high school football and a cause that they are mutually behind," he said. "When we set out to do the Brothers in Arms Classic, we wanted this to be annual, and to be the best. We were thinking about 10, 20 years from now, but the overwhelming support we received right out of the gate has been something I don't think anyone expected.

UNDER ARMOUR BROTHERS IN ARMS CLASSIC 2013 SCHEDULE
JUNEAU
Aug. 20: Thunder Mountain (AK) vs. Viewpoint (CA) At Thunder Mountain High School -- 7:30 P.M.
Aug. 23: Juneau-Douglas (AK) vs. Viewpoint (CA) At Juneau-Douglas Mountain High School -- 7:30 P.M.
MOORPARK
Aug. 30: Moorpark (CA) vs. South Anchorage (AK) At Moorpark High School -- 7:00 P.M.
SAN DIEGO
Aug. 30: Cathedral Catholic (CA) vs. Jordan (UT) At Cathedral Catholic High School -- 5:00 P.M.
Vista (CA) vs. La Serna (CA) at Cathedral Catholic High School -- 8:00 P.M.
Torrey Pines (CA) vs. San Pasqual (CA) At Torrey Pines High School -- 8:00 P.M.
St. Augustine (CA) vs. Oceanside (CA) at Mesa College -- 8:00 P.M.
Aug. 31: JSerra Catholic (CA) vs. Centennial (NV) At Cathedral Catholic High School -- 11:00 A.M.
Mission Hills (CA) vs. Desert Vista (AZ) at Cathedral Catholic High School -- 1:30 P.M.
Serra (CA) vs. Desert Ridge (AZ) At Cathedral Catholic High School -- 3:45 P.M.
Eastlake (CA) vs. Hamilton (AZ) At Cathedral Catholic High School -- 6:00 P.M.
Helix Charter (CA) vs. Punahou (HI) At Cathedral Catholic High School -- 8:15 P.M.
HARRISBURG
Aug. 31: Bishop McDevitt Harrisburg (PA) vs. Harrisburg (PA) At Bishop McDevitt Harrisburg High School -- 10:30 A.M.
COLLEGE PARK
Sept. 1: St. Frances (MD) vs. Friendship (DC) At the University of Maryland -- Noon
Gilman (MD) vs. Manatee (FL) At the University of Maryland -- 2:30 P.M. (ESPN)
Gonzaga College (DC) vs. Cocoa (FL) At the University of Maryland -- 5:00 P.M.
Middletown (DE) vs. Concord (DE) At the University of Maryland -- 7:00 P.M.
Sept. 2: DeMatha Catholic (MD) vs. Godby (FL) At the University of Maryland -- 4:00 P.M. (ESPN)
MANDEVILLE
Sept. 6: Mandeville (LA) vs. Dekaney (TX) At Mandeville High School -- 5:00 P.M.
John Curtis (LA) vs. Bergen Catholic (NJ) At Mandeville High School -- 7:30 P.M.
HELIX
Sept. 6: Helix Charter (CA) vs. Northridge (UT) At Helix Charter High School -- 7:00 P.M.
ELDER
Sept. 13: Elder (OH) vs. Francis Howell (MO) At Elder High School -- 7:00 P.M.
FORT ZUMWALT EAST
Sept. 13: Smith-Cotton (MO) vs. Orchard Farm(MO) At Jenny Jaynes Stadium -- 7:00 P.M.
Fort Zumwalt East (MO) vs. Hickman (MO) At Fort Zumwalt East High School -- 7:00 P.M.
BENTONVILLE
Sept. 20: Bentonville (AR) vs. Trinity (TX) At Bentonville High School -- 7:00 P.M.
PLANO EAST
Sept. 27: Plano East (TX) vs. Venice (FL) At Plano East Senior High School -- 7:00 P.M.
"We are on involved in ongoing fundraising efforts to support multiple causes central to helping the families of military members who were lost in combat, and this event is something we believe can have a multiplier effect on raising money and raising awareness."

The first to raise a hand and aid the cause were Under Armour and Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha.

Former DeMatha football player -- and later a Navy SEAL -- Brendan Looney and his brother in arms First Lt. Travis Manion were the impetus for the foundation. Manion was killed in action in 2007. Looney was laid to rest in 2010.


Following Looney's death, the Manion family exhumed the body of their son so that the best friends could be buried side-by-side at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a decision that reached President Barack Obama, who chose to speak over their graves on Memorial Day 2011.

Beach said the story made such waves that it lifted all boats.

"Obviously DeMatha was very familiar with the story, and they reached out about doing something," Beach said. "With the proximity to the school, Under Armour was right behind them.

"Once we started putting games out there, the response was overwhelming and schools were reaching out to us, asking if they could host a 'Brothers in Arms' game, and we didn't turn anyone away."

The event has confirmed the participation of 20 teams that have been ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 over the past five years.


Headlining games in the series are a Sept. 6 matchup between 2012 High School Football National Champion River Ridge (La.) John Curtis and Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic and a Sept. 20 clash between perennial power Euless (Texas) Trinity and Bentonville (Ark.) High.

[ RELATED: Brothers In Arms Foundation | The Travis Manion Foundation ]


A Labor Day weekend quintet of games will be played at the University of Maryland with DeMatha taking on Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby on Monday afternoon.

The other four contests will be played on Sunday, with Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances taking on Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate; Baltimore (Md.) Gilman squaring off against Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee; Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College playing Cocoa (Fla.) High; and Middletown (Del.) lining up against Concord (Del.) High.

Brian Hercules and his company, Hercules Sports Management, were responsible for the games in the series, and the former Bellevue (Wash.) High athletic director said there is more to be gained than a victory on the field.

"For the Brothers in Arms foundation, we want to make this event a household name and bring awareness to the foundation," he said. "For each school, we want to help promote their program and offer them an opportunity that will stay with their players and staff long after high school and football. We want all of the fans to also have a story from one of our games that impressed them and showcased the talent that these players are blessed with.

"We're excited for this event and the games because it brings some of the nation's best high school athletes from over 16 states together to play football and honor our troops through a great foundation like Brothers in Arms."

While the format might not be a traditional weekend event under a singular sponsor and name, Beach said that the intent is not just to remember the fallen on one weekend and in one location but to make the memories live on.


 He added that the television exposure -- with select games being broadcast on Fox Sports and ESPN -- will increase awareness.

"There is an opportunity to showcase this cause to millions of viewers through our television partnerships and that is invaluable," he said. "Most all of these schools reached out because they have had kids, alumni, who have died in service and, while many will be watching the game for what it is, there are those that will be remembering family and friends."




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