NFL's Super Bowl legacy includes funding youth education and sports programs in host cities

Reshavia Longstreet, 9, left, and Antionette Brown, 7, enjoy a game with rec leader Michael Simms at the NFL-funded Youth Education Town (YET) at Jackson Heights in Tampa. Since 1993, the NFL has donated more than $1 million toward building YET programs in Super Bowl host cities. Hillsborough County has two.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Reshavia Longstreet, 9, left, and Antionette Brown, 7, enjoy a game with rec leader Michael Simms at the NFL-funded Youth Education Town (YET) at Jackson Heights in Tampa. Since 1993, the NFL has donated more than $1 million toward building YET programs in Super Bowl host cities. Hillsborough County has two.

TAMPA — Their heads bobbing to the beat, Kezmond Smith and Kenny Knight sat before a computer with ear phones on.

As the 12- and 14-year-olds manipulated the rhythmic pattern on the computer screen, their beat changed but remained steady.

Outside, a gaggle of kids, ages 5 to 14, played in a large green field and yelled: "Mr. Fox, Mr. Fox, what time is it?"

A reply of: "5 o'clock" sent them screaming at the top of their lungs, counting and stepping until they reached the number five.

All the action took place on a breezy afternoon at the Jackson Heights NFL Youth Education Town (YET) in East Tampa.

It is one of two YET legacies of Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa in 2001. The other is in northeast Hillsborough County at Mort Park.

The NFL has built YET centers in every Super Bowl city since 1993, when Super Bowl XXVII was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. That was a few months after riots had engulfed nearby Los Angeles for several days after the acquittal on criminal charges of four white police officers in the beating of Rodney King, who is black and had led police on a car chase.

"After the race riots, we couldn't just pick up and leave," said David Krichavsky, director of community affairs for NFL Charities. "So we built an after-school facility there."

There are 14 YET centers in 11 cities. "We needed a lasting legacy," Krichavsky said.

Because Tampa has hosted the Super Bowl before, the $1 million the league typically uses to start a center will be used to enhance the ones the city has.

Tampa and Hillsborough County are contributing a matching $1 million by employing the staffs and handling the buildings' and programs' administration, city and county officials said.

The private sector is chipping in $500,000, said Stephanie Owens-Royster, the centers' executive director. The Glazer Family Foundation, a charitable arm of the Bucs owners that assists causes in west-central Florida, is donating $150,000 to help meet that goal.

The money will be used to put a football field at Mort Park and to expand both centers, Krichavsky said. State-of-the-art multimedia initiatives also will occur at each location.

At Jackson Heights on a recent afternoon, one meeting room had a group of young girls practicing a dance routine to Mary J. Blige's Just Fine.

"It's nice to see the children come here and be children," said Michael Simms, a recreation leader at Jackson Heights.

Another room featured 20 computers thanks to a collaboration with the Forever Young Foundation of Hall of Fame 49ers and Bucs quarterback Steve Young. The foundation also donated four computers and audio and video equipment for a music production class.

The Patel Conservatory at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center chips in $100,000 by sending professional instructors to teach classes.

At Jackson Heights, Shawntana Holland, 11, and Sarah Sumes, 13, walked away from a production class with an award for best original beat done in five minutes.

"I love making beats, and I want to be a singer when I grow up," Shawntana said. "Coming up here to the center, it's really fun."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce a $1 million gift to the two Tampa Bay NFL YET Centers at a press conference at 4 p.m. Thursday, January 29 at the Mort Park Youth Education Town, 1815 E. 148th Ave., Tampa. Goodell will be joined by local government officials, host committee members, Tampa Bay Buccaneers representatives and NFL players including Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young.

fast facts

More money for Hillsborough centers

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will announce a $1 million gift to the two Hillsborough County NFL Youth Education Towns at a news conference at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Mort Park Youth Education Town, 1815 E 148th Ave., Tampa. Goodell will be joined by local government officials, host committee members, Tampa Bay Bucs representatives and current and former NFL players, including Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.

NFL's Super Bowl legacy includes funding youth education and sports programs in host cities 01/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 5:12pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...