The cold crisp air gave way as team after team took the field in the 11th annual Valley Bowl Nov. 2, on the fields behind UTPA’s Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex. The Valley Bowl is a Valley-wide flag football competition between area universities.
This year the participating schools were UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, South Texas College, Texas Southmost College and Texas State Technical College.
The competition is held at a different location every year and this marked the first time UTPA was given the opportunity to host it.
This gave the UTPA teams a home field advantage. Despite the total of 10 men’s teams and five co-rec teams (co-ed) that participated.
These three UTPA teams, comprised of UTPA students, made it to the Valley Bowl: men’s teams The Really Hot Guys, Nemesis and Gang Green, a co-rec outfit.
These three were chosen to represent UTPA by a ranking system. In order to play, each team had to win their respective school-wide flag football competitions.
Amy Lynn Trevino, a junior who plays for Gang Green, was grateful for the tournament’s move to Edinburg.
“It’s better than going to Brownsville or Laredo,” Trevino said. “It’s pretty cool and everyone is competitive, but the sportsmanship is there too.”
Despite the fact that schools from all over the Valley were represented, the top spots were earned by the three participating UTPA teams.
First place in the all men’s division went to The Really Hot Guys and second went to Nemesis. The co-rec team, Gang Green won second in their section losing only to UTB, The Hustlers.
Now the UTPA teams are allowed to compete at the regional level and have the possibility to move on to nationals at the University of West Florida on Jan. 3-5, 2014.
One of the University teams, The Really Hot Guys, aka Team Slow goes all over Texas to compete, explained Fernie Salinas, a sophomore at UTPA and a three-year flag football veteran of a team that’s played together for about six years.
“We travel on a select team outside school,” Salinas said. “We have a pretty good sponsorship and we travel to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio (and) Laredo. (We do it because) it’s pretty fun…we all are friends and we just ended up getting good.”
He, and those on teams Nemesis and Gang Green, predicted they would sweep the competition, and they did, ending most of their games by mercy rule. Which is when a sports event is ended early because one team has a presumably insurmountable lead over the other team.
In total, The Really Hot Guys played five games until facing the UTB, the Hustlers, who forfeited the title game due to personal reasons.
“We have a lot of experience and we know how to play with each other (as a team). We just know the game a little better,” Salinas said.
Meanwhile, the Nemesis team has been attempting to make the Valley Bowl for four years, according to captain Robby Nieto, former Donna High School football player.
According to Nieto, UTPA had previously only allowed the top team, usually The Really Hot Guys, to attend the Valley Bowl, but this year UTPA allowed the top two clubs: Nemesis and The Really Hot Guys, to compete. Now that his team has broken through and placed, Nieto looks forward to the future of the intramural sport.
“Only positive benefits can come out of the Valley Bowl,” Nieto said. “We are hoping that a lot more teams come out to represent Pan Am and our league. Ideally, we want it to stay here, ‘cause we are the home team, but as long as we get to represent Pan Am here or anywhere else, we think it’s just going to be beneficial to the University.”
REGION TO NATION
The main prize to the winners of the Bowl, aside from medals and plaques, was a spot in the region VI regionals in Lubbock at Texas Tech University.
In total, there will be 150 teams and 1,800 athletes at the event, which happens Nov. 22-24.
After regionals, 48 teams and 580 athletes will advance and receive an automatic bid to participate in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Championship Series National Flag Football Championships at the University of West Florida in Orlando.
With regionals closing in and the three UTPA teams searching for sponsorship to continue their season, Nieto looks back grateful for the competition overall.
“We appreciated the opportunity to play, finally,” Nieto said with a laugh. “You know, we were just looking to represent Pan-Am pretty well.”