Approximately 15,000 people work at the MacDill Air Force in Tampa, Florida. Of those 15,000, a significant percentage of military personnel and their families live on base. For those who choose not to live on base, they make Tampa and surrounding areas their home. The base sits on the Hillsborough Bay, with charming homes lining Bay Shore Boulevard. The homes face the bay, are built up so the view is accessible from the back. It’s not uncommon to see dolphins frolicking in the bay. The area directly in front of the homes is a designated No Boat Zone. There is no fishing and no recreational use of that part of the bay. Twice a year, people can apply for a permit and fish there for one day. You can imagine the size of the fish they catch. I was told that the applications sell out in a few hours.
In 2001 and 2003, Tampa Bay was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which annually honors the most supportive Air Force city in Air Mobility Command.
We returned to this beautiful setting for the third time on Saturday. The day was made to order, upper 70’s, slight breeze and loads of Florida sunshine. 90 people signed up and we estimate that roughly 75 participated. As always, the little ones clinic was jamming with future All American Division One players. The pros, Brian Gottfried and his assistant Cheryl, JoAnne Russell, Mark Wirth, Lisa Pugliese, Glen Outlaw, Emil De-Cuba and Dick Tarantino were able to run them through the fundamentals and finished with an exciting relay race.
As always, an event is only as successful as the volunteers that help run it. This time, we were so fortunate to have Mr. and Mrs. Alan Smoke help us throughout the day. It should be noted that the Smokes are the parents of the amazing 2d Lt Farrah Smoke- one of our points of contact and Amazing Organizer. Between 2d Lt Smoke and Sandy Kobelia, Deputy, 6th Force Support Squadron at 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AF Base, we had everything we needed to just roll in and get ready to go. Vashema Bourne was not only an enormous help, but she also won a pair of New Balance tennis shoes (along with Sandy and Farrah….what are the chances??!!). Thank you all!
Mark Wirth was treated to a boisterous Happy Birthday Chorus by the first clinic and shared the delicious Publix Pull Apart Cake with all of us. Happy Birthday HotChoklit!
Lisa Pugliese joined us for the first time and she was incredible. She took time off from her busy schedule of work, family and her very own charity, Love Serving Autism (wew are looking forward to her first event coming soon!).
I am always amazed at how much the parents support our events. Many parents start the day watching their kids in the junior clinics, then come back and participate in the adult clinics. They bring their dogs, snacks, toys, cameras and enthusiasm that’s unmatched anyway. Thank you to all parents everywhere.
A huge shout out goes to Fuzzy’s and the USO of Central Florida, Amy Phillips for providing a delicious Mexican food lunch.
No event at MacDill would be complete without ending the day at Seascapes, the beach bar/restaurant on base. We all had a lovely dinner, then off we all went to start the holiday season. Thank you to everyone everywhere who donated, volunteered, brain-stormed, supported and just plain “been there” for Boots on the Court. We are humbled, grateful and more than anything, appreciative. Here’s wishing everyone peace and joy and an amazing 2017.