RANCHO SANTA FE — Ten local schools competed in this year’s Spirit Bowl raising money for abused children. Hosted by Horizon Prep, the Spirit Bowl gives young athletes a chance to play football and make their home team proud, all the while raising money for Camp Julian Oaks, a camp dedicated to neglected and abused children. At the kick-off ceremonies, Tony Masa, director of Camp Julian told the kids, “You’re playing for a greater purpose today. You’re playing for kids who have been abused.”
NFL star and former San Diego Charger Mikhael Ricks was the official kick-off speaker. Ricks (known to the kids as “Coach Mike”) took time out of his busy schedule — he was married two days later! — to share with the young athletes some of the advice his grandmother had shared with him in his youth. Ricks read from a piece titled “Reason, Season, or a Lifetime” outlining why we encounter various people at different times in our lives.
In the past, the Spirit Bowl has raised more than $11,000 for children at Camp Julian Oaks. “We’re hoping to top that amount,” said Horizon Prep Athletic Director Matt Roy.
The teams that competed in the Spirit Bowl were Horizon Prep, Bonita Road Christian, Calvary Christian Academy, The Children’s School, two teams from Christian Elementary, The Grauer School, The Nativity School, Santa Fe Christian and St. James Academy.
Next year’s Spirit Bowl promises to be bigger and better as more and more schools want to compete. “We had schools call at the last minute and ask to take part in this year’s event. We couldn’t accommodate them all,” Coach Roy said.
The football field was bustling with activity as teams played, cheerleaders performed, and parents and grandparents cheered their favorites on. The Straza Family, owners of a local McDonalds, provided hamburgers for the crowd, treats that were devoured enthusiastically.
Earlier in the week, Horizon Prep fourth-grader Yechan Choi went to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Bible Bee. Yechan and his friend Aaron Lee competed in the local Bible Bee, an intense Bible memory competition for children ages 7 to 18. More than 17,000 contestants enrolled in the National Bible Bee, yet Choi will be one of 300 to compete at the national level. First prize for Choi’s age group is $25,000. The student has put in countless hours to memorize up to 1,000 verses and studying six books of the Bible for questions.