“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vincent Thomas Lombardi
Marines and civilian employees at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma participated in an intramural football championship sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services at Ramada Field on Nov. 28.
“The tournament began with 14 teams,” said Walter “Ski” Sosinski, MCCS athletic director and a native of Oshkosh, Wisc. “For the championship, we had a real good turnout of Marines, friends and family – Everybody was out there, pretty much.”
The flag football preseason tournament, as part of MCCS’ intramural sports, began Aug. 6. One hundred days and 12 eliminated teams later, only two teams were left standing.
“We actually breezed through the regular season,” said Michael Harris, an Installation and Logistics Department engineer and a native of Oakland, Calif. “We had one tough game in the opening round, but after that we went undefeated.”
Civilian and military service members made up the undefeated, three-time defending championship super duo of I&L and Yuma Proving Ground’s “BRINGING THE HEAT”. Their aptly titled opponent, Marine Air Control Squadron 1 “Falconers”, came into the championship face-off with only one defeat.
Each team consisted of eight players with a handful of alternates. The pigskin and flags were provided by MCCS. A three-man crew from the Cactus Officials Association also provided unbiased referees for the event.
“The officiating was pretty fair, I must say,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kendrick Hardwell, the MACS-1 substance abuse control officer and a native of Winnfield, LA. “Our biggest problem was not converting in the red zone and turnovers.”
Since it was a double elimination tournament, the event turned into a double-header after the Falconers dimmed Bringing the Heat’s light in game one with an aggressive pass-rush defense. The strategy neutralized Bringing the Heat’s ability to produce points. Game one ended with a score of 12-0, giving the Falconers an opportunity to dethrone the reigning champs.
The “If” game, as it was called, got underway immediately after game one and found both teams in a strong defensive struggle for possession and control.
“We had to make some adjustments in the second game to make some drives down the field,” said Harris. “But we managed to score in the first half.”
With 18 seconds left in the determining match, MACS-1 was at the five-yard-line with two opportunities to tie the game. At third-and-goal, the Falconers threw the ball twice but failed to convert.
“It was a well played game by both teams,” said Hardwell. “But they did what they had to do and, at the end of the day, we didn’t.”
Along with winning, good sportsmanship and unit cohesion are always the hopes for participants and organizers of MCCS’ intramurals. Rank takes a backseat to cultivating that sense of family that the Corps instills in Marines from the very beginning.
“Doing these events, we normally have Marines anywhere from master sergeant to private on the roster,” said Hardwell. “It gives us an opportunity to work with Marines that we normally wouldn’t work with very much.”
Feeding off of one another on the sports field helps cultivate the type of camaraderie Marines need to work well back at the shop.
“It gets their minds away from the day-to-day grind of military life,” said Sosinski. “It’s a good tension relief to just get away from it all and have some fun.”
A life of perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice and dedication that Vince Lombardi once spoke about is something all Marines are familiar with. Sharing in that experience and having some fun, through the medium of MCCS’ intramural sports tournaments, is a valuable and important part of what keeps us together.