By ANNE BAGGETT
For The Catholic Week
The 72nd annual Toy Bowl festivities were reigned over by Queen Camille Dennis and King Payton Anderson of Corpus Christi Parish and Princess Maddie Mayhall and Prince Peyton Armstrong of St. Mary Parish.
The court of 186 eighth-grade students raised more than $72,000 to ensure the success of CYO programs.
Toy Bowl 2019 ushered in several changes in format for the fall sports season. The most significant was the combining of the Mobile County seventh- and eighth-grade Catholic School football programs under the McGill-Toolen Catholic High School umbrella and the Baldwin County seventh- and eighth-grade football players under the red and white colors of St. Michael Catholic High School. Also, participating in these changes were the cheerleaders who joined the squads of the respective teams.
Other changes included flag football for grades three and four, soccer for kindergarten students and cheerleaders for these teams.
The McGill-Toolen middle school football team advanced to the finals in the playoffs, but lost a hard-fought game to Faith Academy.
Toy Bowl activities began with the youth Mass for the court at St. Mary Catholic Church. Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi was principal celebrant and Fr. W. Bry Shields, president of McGill-Toolen and pastor of St. Ignatius Parish was homilist.
Fr. Shields spoke to the young people, telling them “We have to learn how to fail. We can’t let failure define who we are.” Using examples of baseball greats such as Babe Ruth, Fr. Shields said “Think of all that you are. Be defined by who God says we are — His children.”
After Mass, the court processed to the McGill-Toolen banquet hall. Emcee for the event was Sarah Wall, news anchor for WALA-Fox 10. Wall introduced court members and the schools they attended and thanked them for their work.
David Weems, executive director of the CYO, welcomed everyone to the banquet and thanked all participants, coaches and administrators for all they did in support of the CYO. Weems spoke briefly to the eighth-graders, telling them “to have a servant’s heart- look out for the weak.”
He then introduced keynote speaker Blake Stein. A graduate of Spring Hill College and member of the Badger baseball team, Stein was a Major League Baseball draft pick and pitched for the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s. His baseball career spanned 11 years. He and his wife, Ellen, have five children and they started the K’s for Cancer Foundation that has aided breast cancer research. Today, one can find Stein at McGill-Toolen as an assistant principal.
Stein spoke to the young people about social media. He noted “you can see or hear anything you want on social media.” He asked the young “Who do you want to be like?”
Stein appealed to the young saying “Don’t use social media to value self or de-value someone else. Use social media in a positive way. Use what God has given us. Use it well. Use it to make yourself a better person.”
Stein observed as he looked out at the crowd that it was “nice to see tonight you having human interaction.”
The evening closed with Archbishop Rodi giving the closing prayer and asking for God’s blessing on all involved in Toy Bowl.
Despite several rain delays the games of the Toy Bowl proceeded. All contests were played at the Lipscomb Athletic Complex and included St. Dominic Blue defeating St. Mary White 50-44 in Division 2 Flag Football; and St. Ignatius Green beating Corpus Christi 20-14 in Division 4 Flag Football.
St. Mary sealed a 14-0 win over St. Ignatius in Division 6.
In soccer, St. Dominic beat Corpus Christi 2-0 in Division 2 girls; St. Dominic beat St. Ignatius Gold 3-1 in Division 2 Co-ed; Christ the King defeated St. Mary 3-2 in a shootout in Division 4; Christ the King Blue beat St. Ignatius Green 3-1 in Division 6; and Christ the King defeated St. Dominic 4-1 in the senior division.
The middle school football battle between McGill-Toolen and St. Michael saw McT victorious 35-6 in the first Toy Bowl middle school contest.
Toy Bowl Saturday arrived with blue skies, bright sunlight and cool temperatures to celebrate the youth of the CYO Toy Bowl Court. The presentation was held with Fr. Shields and last year’s queen, Mallory McCorkle, greeting the court members and crowning Queen Camille, King Payton, Princess Maddie and Prince Peyton. The smiling faces of the large court were truly the highlight of the day and a sure sign of Toy Bowl 2019’s success.
By ANNE BAGGETT