The experience ended Saturday, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Last week, athletes from all over Central Texas descended on Waco and Belton for the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl. With a series of all-star games, including baseball, softball, volleyball, golf and football, serving as the centerpiece of the weeklong event, numerous recently graduated players were allowed to represent their schools one final time.
For most of the area standouts, it is a cherished opportunity.
The players, however, are not the only ones who will remember their time at the Victory Bowl.
Three area coaches were selected to help guide the teams into their respective contests, and for Copperas Cove head baseball coach Dusty Brittain, the memories will last.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that before,” he said. “It was just a really neat experience, and it is something I think the kids can take with them forever.
“I know I will take it with me forever.”
Brittain was part of the Red team’s coaching staff, and his team emerged with an 8-6 victory Friday evening at Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Red Murff Field.
Although the outcome was a highlight of the week for Brittain, it is only a small reason the Victory Bowl was meaningful.
In the days leading up to the game, players and coaches spent time doing community service projects, taking part in clinics, enjoying entertainment, including movies and tours of local attractions, and bonding.
“We did more of all the other stuff than we focused on baseball,” Brittain said. “We only had two short practices.
“The game was just a small part of it to me. It was fun, and I know that the game is our platform, but just being a part of everything else is what really made it worthwhile.”
Lampasas head football coach Troy Rogers, who helped oversee the Blue team’s 27-26 victory Saturday, agreed.
“We had a pep rally,” he said, “we had guest speakers and devotionals. A character coach came in, and the coaches had devotionals every morning.
“The FCA did a really good job of making everything what it should be about.”
While the Victory Bowl is used in part as a vehicle to give back to the community, some, including Lampasas head softball coach Drew Cleavinger, are admittedly selfish during the week.
Throughout her two seasons with the Lady Badgers, Cleavinger witnessed outfielder Kyndal Moyer mature as a player, but a loss to Caldwell in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs abruptly ended their time on the field together.
Then, the Victory Bowl afforded them another opportunity as each was placed on the Blue team’s roster, and the duo shared one final win together, defeating the Red team 7-4 on Friday.
Like Brittain and Rogers, though, the game’s final result was merely an added bonus.
“I was just so glad to have my kid for three more days,” Cleavinger said. “Getting to see Kyndal outside the softball field and doing all the service projects and stuff was really neat.
“I just felt fortunate to be around her a little longer, because I would keep her forever if I could.”