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Alumni reuniting on football field in rivalry game

7/11/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — Past football stars from Springfield High School will get another chance for some new glory tonight, July 12, when alumni from Springfield and Coventry high schools resume their rivalry on the football field.

The game will take place at Coventry High School’s football field, located next to Coventry Plaza behind the middle school, at 8 p.m.

Jason Labay, chief executive officer and director of Akron Springfield Alumni Football, said the game promises to offer an entertaining matchup.

“This game is real, hard-hitting football with guys who have experience in the NFL, major college level and were stars in high school,” he stated. “The game has a high school football playoff atmosphere and is well attended. Guests from the NFL and major college football will be in attendance, as well as local and national media. All are welcome and invited.”

One of the best attributes of these types of games, Labay noted, is seeing players from different generations playing together as teammates.

“We have had players playing next to sons, nephews, etc.,” he stated. “Alumni football is about making dreams come true on the field and in the stands. Many alumni come to watch and it turns into an all-years class reunion in the stands, where alumni meet other alumni they haven’t talked to in years.”

Labay said games like these are important for a couple of reasons.

“This game is important to the players for a chance to relive memories and capture one last moment of playing football as a Springfield Spartan,” he said. “It is also important to the players and all involved to give back to Springfield High School and charities we love and support.”

Akron Springfield Alumni Football has played in an alumni football game “once or twice each year since 2010,” Labay said, with a main goal of raising funds for the Athletic Department at Springfield High School, Springfield Youth Football and for other charities.

“In 2011, we raised money for the ‘Be the Match Registry’ to raise awareness for bone marrow donation. We lost one of our players late in 2010 to cancer and it was the least we could do to honor his memory. That player was Springfield Trustee Vince Mealy,” Labay said. “We carry on his memory to date by having his jersey number, 35, retired and by having his number on our helmets. For 2013, we are raising money for the Alzheimer’s [Association], which is dear to many players especially since Springfield High School recently lost a long-time teacher to the disease, Mr. Bob McLaren.”

According to Labay, the players pay $95 to take part in the game.

“Players incur additional costs, such as shoes, mouthpiece and various equipment,” he said. “This year, Springfield was honored to have several anonymous donors cover the cost of each player, so some of our less fortunate players were able to play and help raise money for the school. This was the first time we had donors.”

Tickets for the game are $10 each, or $6 for children ages 7 to 12. Those 5 years old and younger will be admitted free of charge. For all presale tickets sold, $5 of the $10 goes back to the Springfield team, Labay said.

“Any tickets purchased at the gate we get no money in return, so it is vital to our fundraising efforts that tickets are purchased presale,” he said. “Tickets can be purchased anytime at our prime sponsor, Stationhouse 319 & Vito’s Pizzaria, 1575 Massillon Road. Our team website is www.springfieldalumnifootball.com and those wanting tickets can contact us through the website as well.”

And while the fierce rivalry between Springfield and Coventry will commence on the football field once again tonight, Labay said alumni from both sides are welcome to celebrate together after the game.

“Springfield is hosting a gathering for everyone after the game at Stationhouse 319 & Vito’s Pizzaria to celebrate the victories of both teams raising money for a good cause and solidifying memories to last a lifetime,” he said. “All are welcome.”


Editor’s note: Coventry Alumni Football did not respond to our multiple attempts for information by presstime.

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