TAMPA — Courtney Carroll signed up as a Super Bowl volunteer in 2001, the last football championship game played in Tampa, and she's eager to do it again in 2009.
"It was a great experience," said Carroll, who lives in South Tampa. "I don't think a lot of regular people in the Tampa Bay area get to go to the actual Super Bowl. This is kind of the next best thing. You felt like you were a part of everything."
You will not, however, get to be part of everything.
As the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee begins its search this week for 6,000 volunteers, it is making one thing clear:
"No volunteers will receive tickets to the game," said Jennifer St. John, the host committee volunteer coordinator. "And there are no volunteer opportunities inside Raymond James Stadium either."
Volunteers will get a uniform — a hat, shirt and jacket emblazoned with a commemorative Super Bowl logo — to keep.
Training sessions begin in the fall.
Already, about 1,600 people have inquired with the host committee about volunteering, St. John said. The calls and e-mails started coming right after the 2008 Super Bowl in Arizona.
In the week before Tampa's Super Bowl, slated for Feb. 1, 2009, some volunteers will greet travelers at the airport. Others will be assigned to hotels to hand out information packets to guests and give directions to restaurants, events, beaches and other attractions.
Some will meet buses and direct ticket-holders outside the stadium on game day.
Most will assist at the NFL Experience, a football-themed amusement park near the stadium scheduled to run Jan. 24-25 and Jan. 29-30.
Assignments there will include helping with games and assisting with autograph sessions by football players and coaches.
"It's the most exciting place to volunteer. There's a lot of activity," St. John said.
Carroll volunteered at the NFL Experience in 2001, the year Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-7 win over the New York Giants.
She helped out at a game that challenged kids to run through various football maneuvers.
Now a 34-year-old mother of a 2-year-old, Carroll is already looking ahead to football season and the September due date of a second child. "I'm a big football fan," she said. "Come Super Bowl time, I'll be ready to get out of the house and have a break from the kids."
Janet Zink can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3401.