(Bradenton, FL) The Pittsburgh Pirates will hold National Anthem auditions on Sunday, January 29 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, FL. Auditions are open to anyone interested in singing The Star Spangled Banner prior to a Pirates Spring Training game. Prospective singers must feel comfortable performing in front of audiences of 7,000 people or more.
Auditions will be conducted a cappella and must be no longer than two minutes in length. There is no pre-registration for auditions. Prospective singers will perform in the order they sign up on the day of auditions. Registration will close at noon. National Anthem auditions will be conducted for vocalists only; instrumental renditions will not be accepted.
Pirates employees will supervise the auditions and determine which performers to invite to fill open spots in the Spring Training schedule. Contestants that wish to sing the Canadian National Anthem before the Pirates game against Toronto on Sunday, March 19 or the national anthem of the Dominican Republic for the game on Wednesday, March 8 are welcome to audition with one of those selections. Participants that audition but are not selected to perform will have their information kept on file for potential anthem openings during the Bradenton Marauders season.
The Pirates will play an 18-game home schedule at McKechnie Field this spring, beginning with a matchup against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, February 25.
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(St. Petersburg, FL) The NFL is partnering with the historic East-West Shrine Game to increase development opportunities for coaches and draft-eligible players, the league announced today.
The NFL will supply the coaching staffs for the two teams from among current league assistant coaches whose teams do not advance to the playoffs. The NFL will also provide the game officials for the contest, which features some of college football’s best prospects.
The 92nd annual East-West Shrine Game will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 21, from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida and be televised live on NFL Network.
“The East-West Shrine Game is not only a showcase for tremendous athletes who have a dream of playing at the next level, it is also a venue for upwardly mobile coaches in the NFL,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “This is an opportunity to further develop, evaluate and showcase our assistant coaches who may be our next generation of head coaches.”
At the conclusion of the NFL regular season, teams will nominate deserving assistant coaches who will be reviewed by a panel that includes NFL Football Operations staff, East-West Shrine Game leadership and two members of the NFL’s General Managers Advisory Committee. Once the head coaches are selected, each head coach will then fill his 12-person staff from among other NFL assistant coaches nominated by the clubs, a key job requirement for head coaches at every level of the sport.
Coaches nominated by NFL clubs must be active assistant coaches who display extraordinary teaching and communications skills, and are recognized for their integrity and commitment to excellence in the coaching profession. The coaches must be accomplished at developing and preparing players to compete in the NFL.
“It is an honor for the East-West Shrine Game to partner with the NFL to promote opportunities for professional growth and development not only for our outstanding players, but also for the potential future generation of head coaches in the league,” said HAROLD RICHARDSON, executive director of the East-West Shrine Game. “We are proud to be able to provide a national stage for some of football’s greatest talents to develop their skills and showcase their abilities, all while supporting an exceptional cause.”
For more than 90 years, some of football’s greatest players and coaches have contributed to the tradition of the East-West Shrine Game, the nation’s first college all-star football game. Created by the Shriners in 1925, the game is driven by the desire to support Shriners Hospitals for Children in its mission to help children in need of expert medical care. Participating players make an annual visit to the local Shriners Hospital, visiting children and staff in an experience that they will truly never forget.
(Tampa, FL) No. 20 Florida dominated the Outback with stingy defense and a persistent offense that did its job, too.
Chauncey Gardner, Jr., returned one of his two fourth-quarter interceptions 58 yards for a touchdown, and graduate transfer Austin Appleby threw for 222 yards and two TDs to pace Monday’s 30-3 rout of No. 21 Iowa.
With Gardner grabbing game MVP honors, the Gators (9-4) held up their end of what many expected to be a day defense ruled , especially considering Florida entered ranked 115th in the nation in total offense — five spots ahead of the sputtering Hawkeyes.
Conversely, the teams were sixth and 24th, respectively, in total defense.
“The MVP, it goes to our guys up front, the linebackers and the coaching staff because they put me in good position to make plays. … It should be a team MVP,” Gardner said. “Our motto is just go out there and have fun, and play our game.”
Mark Thompson scored on an 85-yard pass play in the first half and Appleby, who spent the past four seasons at Purdue, tossed a 6-yard TD pass to DeAndre Goolsby to break the game open late in the third quarter.
Florida (9-4) rebounded from lopsided losses to archrival Florida State and No. 1 Alabama, scoring more points on Iowa (8-5) than the Hawkeyes allowed to Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska combined while ending the regular season on a three-game winning streak.
“It was a tough day for our football team,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Our team really had a good month, they practiced and prepared well. I’m not sure there’s a thing I’d go back and change. Ultimately, we didn’t play well enough to come up with a victory.”
Iowa’s C.J. Beathard led an early field goal drive and managed to get his team close to the end zone on two other occasions. Florida’s defense stiffened both times, stopping the Hawkeyes on downs at the Gator 3 in the second quarter and forcing them to settle for a 30-yard field goal that sailed wide right midway through the third quarter.
Appleby, who actually began his career at Purdue against Iowa, shrugged off throwing interceptions on Florida’s first two drives of the day to finish 14 of 25 passing.
“We didn’t panic early. We knew Iowa would come out swinging and make some plays on us early,” Appleby said. “We had some bad luck, but didn’t panic, and the defense made some stops and we got on a roll.”
Akrum Wadley ran for 115 yards, giving Iowa a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season for the first time. The junior finished with 1,081, and LeShun Daniels wound up with 1,058 after gaining 45 Monday.
(Information courtesy www.outbackbowl.com)