Written by Phil Cerroni
More than 100 student athletes from across the United States can now call themselves Semper Fidelis All-Americans, and a few now claim the title of champions. The East defeated West in a 17 to 14 showdown of discipline, talent and teamwork at the second-annual Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, CA, Jan. 4.
The Marine Corps’ annual football bowl game brought together some of the most talented high school student-athletes from across the United States who had demonstrated success on and off the field.
“It feels good that the nation’s top 100 players are here. I like how it’s not just about football but the classroom and character too. It’s just an honor that I was chosen,” said Corey Cooper, a wide receiver for the East Team and a student of Millbrook High School in Raleigh, NC.
The bowl is the culmination of a series of youth football camps and a nationwide All-American player selection tour that celebrates academic excellence, proven physical fitness and quality of character. The players -- among the most talented in the nation -- have achieved academic excellence and are leaders in their communities.
Players began to arrive in Anaheim, CA on Dec. 29, and spent the next four days practicing with top college and high school coaches from their respective coasts. Marines added a unique twist to practice by integrating Marine Corps drill instructors and officers as mentors.
“As Marines, we are here to reinforce our core values of honor, courage and commitment,” said Staff Sgt. Chris MacVarish, a drill instructor with Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. “We demonstrated our values’ relevance to success both on and off the field."
In keeping with the Marine Corps’ commitment to “return quality citizens,” players volunteered their time with local youth in Carson and Long Beach, CA. Marine drill instructors and players guided children aged seven to 13 through football and Marine inspired games and events like pass drills, tug-of-war and marching.
Their journey to the bowl has been one of strenuous practices, community building and team bonding.
“Selflessness is the key ingredient and that’s the one thing these kids have got thrown in their faces this week,” said Evans. “Selflessness and the lack of the ‘I focus’.”