Between Dec. 28-31, the USF flag football team Shut ‘Em Down spent time in New Orleans, La., winning the Eastbay National Flag Football Championship against 57 other teams. Shut ‘Em Down won the National Title by defeating Florida A&M University in the championship game 32-22.
During the four-day tournament, the team spent time and money in and around the French Quarter. Team members Cameron “C-Lo” Robinson and Troy Moore sat down for an interview to talk about their travel, trouble and triumph in the Big Easy.
Shut ‘Em Down traveled around the country entertaining hopes of a flag football national title. It’s been to Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.
“There’s actually a lot of traveling involved, but it’s actually a lot of fun,” Moore said.
Most college students know that being active and having fun are great ways to spend their hard-earned time and money. Sometimes those same students run into problems of living beyond their means and thinking they have plenty in the bank. At the end of last month, Shut ‘Em Down felt a taste of this same normal dilemma that most students go through at the Championship.
They spent their days playing football and sleeping. Then they would turn around and head out to shop, party and have a good time in a city known for good times. Bourbon Street, Harrah’s Casino and The French Quarter are spots in which the team dropped their cash. The team stayed at the Hyatt Hotel, adjacent to the Louisiana Super Dome, at a total cost of $585 for two rooms for the three nights they were there.
In order to afford the cost of going to a tournament such as this, a team needs to obtain a sponsor who can help pay for some necessary costs of hotel rooms, food and transportation. Shut ‘Em Down was going into the weekend of flag football with no sponsorship when a team member announced there was a possibility he might have one. Moore had a connection to get the team a $1,000 sponsorship into the tournament.
Usually, entrance fees for this tournament are about $600. Shut ‘Em Down went to UNC-Wilmington to participate in a regional tournament that would land them in the national tournament free of charge. They walked into Wilmington and won their way to New Orleans.
Needing only gas and spending money from their own pockets, the team went expecting to have nothing to worry about. They were wrong.
A slight communication breakdown on the part of Moore cost the team a chance at playing for the crowd at the Sugar Bowl during halftime. Their sponsor also wanted to go with the team to Louisiana, but he had to use a portion of the sponsorship in order to go. So Shut ‘Em down was down to $800 to work with and didn’t find out until they had spent most of their individual reserves in town.
“We were spending our money on clothes, shopping, souvenirs, New Orleans and trying to have a good time,” said Robinson. “Once this happened, everyone was like, what are we going to do? We not only had to pay for the rooms, but we had to pay for the room on Sunday night before the championship game on Monday. We were sitting at a Burger King at 8 in the morning before the championship because we didn’t have a room.”
The lack of a hotel room and the comfort it provides had no discernible effect upon the team’s performance. At halftime during the championship, Shut ‘Em Down was leading a talented FAMU team 20-0. Getting the ball back after FAMU scored on its first possession of the half, Shut ‘Em Down never looked back en route to a 32-22 victory. The team proceeded to toss confetti into the air and chant, “We’re number one! We’re number one!”
“After the game, some people were like, do we stay, or do we go,” said Robinson. “We stayed for the awards ceremony where we found out that we were getting tickets to the Sugar Bowl. We were going to play an exhibition during halftime, but we couldn’t stay because we didn’t have any money or a hotel room.”
Despite the lack of finances, the team went and had a good time and brought the Flag Football National Championship back to USF after a six-year hiatus. The team to win it first was The Zoo in 1994.
Shut ‘Em down’s experience, skill and attitude helped them win through adversity. Since August, the team has lost only one game – in Gainesville at the Swamp Bowl Tournament held by UF.
“We’re good. We know that every time we get the ball we’re going to score on you,” Moore said.
With the talent of All-American players such as Dewey Paxon, Calvin Davis, Darrell Clark and All-American MVPs Moore and Robinson, they expect to win every time.
In order to help pay for next year’s expenses, Shut ‘Em Down is planning on forming USF’s first flag football club to get Student Government to pitch in when the team travels.
Shut ‘Em Down will end its travel season at the World Cup of Flag Football in Davie from Feb 22-26.
- Contact Shawn Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org