The East Coast Bowl
by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Petersburg’s Historic Cameron Field will once again host fans and athletes for the Annual East Coast Bowl Saturday, Nov. 29. The East Coast Bowl is a college All-Star football game that is becoming part of the area’s Thanksgiving weekend tradition. It first kicked off in 2001 with two states represented; Virginia and North Carolina. The Bowl currently receives nominations from schools in 46 states and Washington D.C., making it a national playoff. “It’s probably known more on a national level than it is on a local level,” says Larry Toombs, president of the East Coast Bowl. “I can’t just say it’s east coast or regional now with 36 states.”
All 32 NFL teams send their scouting departments, creating buzz among athletes, and igniting dreams of professional careers. “It’s such a big game for these kids, and then with the NFL being part of it, it’s just a very big game now,” Toombs says.
The primary purpose of the East Coast Bowl is to spotlight athletes from the Division I-FCS, II, III and NAIA levels. The event also serves as a way to renovate and celebrate Historic Cameron Field, which was a gift to the City of Petersburg made in 1933. The brick used to build the stadium came from an old Petersburg reservoir and was built during Roosevelt’s administration as part of his celebrated Works Progress Administration. Although for decades Cameron Field was recognized as one of the finest football stadiums in Virginia, in the years prior to the birth of the East Coast Bowl, it went unused. With each East Coast Bowl, a part of Petersburg history is revived. The annual game also funds the East Coast Bowl Scholarship Fund and all proceeds are directed there.
With bragging rights not only to exciting competition but meaningful missions as well, Toombs anticipates further growth of the East Coast Bowl. “I can’t see us really having Alaska or Hawaii being part,” he says, “but I see us next year with all 48 contiguous states involved.”
Kickoff is at noon. All youth Recreation Football Teams and Cheerleaders are invited to walk around the track before the game in a show of team pride. To participate, call East Coast Bowl Headquarters at 722-0141.
The East Coast Bowl is free to all military, high school football players, youth rec football players, and cheerleaders; for all others, $8 in advance, $10 at the gate. Advance tickets available by calling Headquarters at 722-0141. Info and a list of participating universities are available at www.PetersburgSports.com/EastCoastBowl. The event is sponsored by the City of Petersburg, National Football Foundation, and the College Football Hall of Fame.