Gratitude Bowl Offers Past Flag Football Participants an Opportunity to Reconnect
There have been thousands of participants in Coach Genevieve Caffelli’s SNAP Flag Football League over the years, and many returned this past holiday weekend to play in the 5th Annual Gratitude Bowl held at the Bloomfield Hills High School football field. The event takes place each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
More than 100 people formed teams and took their turns on the turf in three games of 25-minutes each ,before a trophy was awarded to the final victors. “It’s become a tradition for past players and their families,” said Caffelli. “Parents and coaches miss spending their weekends watching their kids play sports. This gives them an opportunity to reminisce.”
The League, held in partnership with the Bloomfield Hills Schools Recreation Department, has been around for 22 years, providing football development opportunities for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. About 500-700 students enroll every fall season and 300-400 register every spring.
“My philosophy is to work towards the goal of building a community of athletes who play together in the youth programs, transition to middle school together, play together in high school, and, finally, come back and support the BHS community after graduation and beyond,” emphasized Caffelli.
Several famous faces and athletic alumni have been known to show up to the Gratitude Bowl. According to Cowdrey, BHHS All-League Players Devon Lynch (Tiffin University Football) and Derrick Lynch (University of Findlay Football), Kyle Mack (Olympic snowboarder), Ty Slazinski (Saginaw Valley State Football), and many more BHS athletes have come out to relive their flag football glory days. The player group also includes past coaches, parents, and referees. “We have people who are now 30 years old who played in the League,” said Cowdry. “It’s just fun. Plus it’s a sense of pride and belonging. A lot of them want to see their friends and, frankly, also compete for bragging rights.”
Plans for next year’s event are underway and could potentially offer more sports. “I'd love to see the Gratitude Bowl next year include more than just flag football,” said Caffelli. “Anyone interested in joining or planning next year's events can send me an email.”