A sampling of community features originally appearing on buccaneers.com

Community Impact: Cut for a Cure, Rookies Tour MacDill and a Winston Football Camp

Here’s what the Buccaneers have been up to around the Tampa Bay area for the past couple weeks.

X Marks the Spotlight: 6th Annual Cut for a Cure

The Buccaneers will host their 6th Annual Cut for a Cure on Monday benefiting the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Players and staff will be participating by either shaving, cutting or coloring their hair for the cause. Team captains leading the charge this year are Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Beau Allen.

This year, General Manager Jason Licht has pledged to shave his head if the Bucs raise $100,000. As of 9 a.m. on Monday morning, the Bucs’ total was over $76,000 with just hours to go before the event. To read more on Licht’s challenge and his motivation behind it, click here.

Rookies Go Up Ranks at MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command

The 2018 rookie class was given an in-depth look at what the men and women who operate out of MacDill Air Force Base do on a day-to-day basis. When they arrived, the group was addressed by General Votel, who is a four-star general with the U.S. Army that is based at MacDill. He spoke of the parallels between his soldiers and the rookies, stating that the transition from civilian to member of the military and college athlete to professional wasn’t ‘dissimilar.’ He shared with them the values that he felt transcended both occupations and closed with wishing the rookies luck as they progress into the season. 

“It’s basically a brotherhood,” rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart said after hearing General Votel address the group. “Being a soldier, you have to count on the person next to you. Same thing in football. If I can’t count on my safety or my d-linemen, we’re no good as a defense so it’s all about being accountable to the brother next to you and not giving up on the person next to you.”

Each rookie shook the General’s hand and thanked him as they dispersed into various demos and breakout groups. Some were shown an array of weaponry and technology used in battle situations – including a night vision demonstration. Others learned of the surveillance and monitoring Central Command is responsible for – including every war situation going on around the globe, whether or not the U.S. is involved. There was even a live taser demonstration as well as a look at what the K-9 unit is capable of in arrest and questioning situations. 

“We got to learn a lot of new stuff and see how the people that protect our country work every day,” first-round pick Vita Vea said. “When we were over there with the Army, they were showing us the different techniques they use and how they use their dog. It was really cool.”

Then the guys were taken out to the U.S. Special Command Fire Station, which responds to any plane-related fire emergencies as well as any other situations on base. Alex Cappa, Carlton Davis and Ronald Jones were among the rookies that got to try their hand at spraying the fire hose, and a brief shootaround even broke out with rookies and service members around the basketball hoop.

“This fire department stuff was pretty fun,” rookie cornerback Carlton Davis said of the day. “Spraying the water was exciting for me. I got a thrill out of it. I felt like I was a real firefighter putting out a fire. I put a lot of effort into it, too! It was pretty fulfilling.”

“I think my favorite part was just getting to see the inner-workings of the military,” rookie safety Godwin Igwebuike said as the day concluded. “When you think military, you think automatically about war and you just think about guns, weapons, bombs, etc. But it was cool to meet the individuals behind all the planning and things, whether that be sending guys over or even evacuations – how they are planning months and months in advance. Then outside of that planning there are different sectors, different groups that have different jobs. It makes it more personal, realizing the lives behind it and the minds that go into it on a daily basis.”

Jameis Winston Kids Around at his 3rd Annual Football ProCamp

The quarterback hosted his 3rd Annual Jameis Winston Football ProCamp this past weekend. The two-day camp featured non-contact drills and team-building activities facilitated by the area’s best high school and college coaches. It also featured appearances by many of Winston’s teammates, including Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ronald Jones, M.J. Stewart and more. A total of 13 Buccaneers players were on hand each day, playing around with all participants.

Winston also invited Special Olympics athletes to participate along with 16 winners from his hometown in Alabama, who took part in an art collage contest. The winners were chosen from local schools in Bessemer and Hueytown and given an all-expenses paid trip to Tampa for the weekend to participate in the camp through Winston’s Dream Forever Foundation.

What’s On Deck:

6/6 Mike Evans OTA Practice – The wide receiver is inviting military families, including five Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in action, to watch practice, eat lunch and run drills with him at One Buc.

6/7 Synagogue School Visit – OL Ali Marpet has invited Rabbi Chait and a group of students to One Buc Place for lunch and practice viewing on the back patio.


Schwarzkopf Military Family Awards: ‘The Force Behind the Forces’

Military families were honored with the General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Award during a ceremony held at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday evening.

Often when you see a military member in uniform, you’ll see people stop to thank them for their service, for their sacrifice, in keeping this country safe. What you don’t see a lot of the time, is people stopping to thank the families of these brave men and women.

That’s what the General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year award aims to reconcile. Given by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in conjunction with the Central Florida USO, the award is named after the late General Schwarzkopf and his family.

“You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

It is something the General was famous for saying as a way of reiterating that the strength, commitment and resiliency that members of the military display day in and day out comes from the support and encouragement of those around them a.k.a. their families.

Each year, a family from each branch of the military: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard/Reserves is chosen as a family who has best demonstrated the values of integrity, courage, commitment and service before self, while sharing in the sacrifices of service to our country.

One of those families awarded this year was the family of Petty Officer First Class Patricia Stanton of the U.S. Navy. It is not only her country that Officer Stanton serves, it is also her community, along with her family, who have collectively volunteered over 1,100 hours just last year alone.

“What’s funny is it seems sort of weird to be recognized for something that we just do on a weekly basis,” Officer Stanton said. “Every Wednesday night, we’re at church and I lead an eighth-grade girls’ small group. Every Sunday morning [my daughters] are at church watching the babies and teaching Sunday school. Or ‘hey, there’s a Navy event going on, we need some volunteers,’ ‘alright, come on crew, let’s go’ and we’re there. If we can make it, we’re there.”

Officer Stanton and her family have volunteered through their church, Centerpoint in Valrico, and around the world. They will soon all be going on a mission trip to South Africa. Both Officer Stanton and her daughter, Elise, have already completed a mission trip in the country and in turn, it has afforded the younger Stanton with undoubtedly a more advanced worldview than her peers, while having a little fun along the way.

“It definitely allowed me to see how their daily lives are and to sort of show me, ‘hey, everybody’s life isn’t perfect, yet you can still help them out,” Elise said of working with orphaned children in South Africa. “It was nice to see all the orphan kids that we visited were also very happy and playful and it was very fun.
“To see what little they had and how happy they were, it really puts things in perspective,” her father, Joe Stanton, added.

Closer to home, the family takes advantage of opportunities to serve through various avenues, including the Navy. They volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House about three-to-four times a year through both the Navy and Joe’s company, Raymond James, and Officer Stanton was even a Girl Scout Troop leader for eight years while her daughters participated as scouts. Service has always been something that’s been important to the family and the Navy has provided even more opportunity to continue their efforts.

“We did it before the Navy, but the Navy definitely has opportunities,” Officer Stanton said. “The Navy is very service-oriented and we try to do at least one service project a month. We try to go as a family to as many of them as we can.”

Service is a way the Stanton family comes together and copes with the challenges faced as the family of a service member.

“By allowing these opportunities to get involved in the community, I think it really makes some connections [with] the military,” Joe said. “You’re either a military family, or you know somebody, or you’re not, and I think it kind of bridges the gap.”

“It’s different, because not a lot of kids have military parents,” Officer Stanton’s youngest daughter, Zoe, said. “A lot of them have grandparents, or aunts and uncles, not their mom.”

“The uncertainty of your future is one of the biggest challenges,” Officer Stanton said of military life and the stress it places on the family. “You know, what do you do next? Where do you go next? What’s next on the agenda?”

The Stanton’s are examples of countless military families across the country that deal with that same uncertainty but have managed to continue to serve others and display nothing but humility when recognized for their efforts.

“We are so honored to be here,” Officer Stanton said. “It’s a very exciting thing for our family and so cool for the girls.”

The Stanton family filed into the auditorium at One Buccaneer Place with members of their extended family in tow. A total of six families were honored Thursday night, representing all branches of the military. Key note speakers included Owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and President of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation and Glazer Family Foundation Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, remarking that this event was one of her favorites of the year because of how important serving members of the military is for the Buccaneers as an organization.

Offensive lineman Evan Smith addressed the group, having military ties himself through his father and brother, among other relatives. Smith choked up when speaking of his brother, who is a Purple Heart recipient and served two tours in Iraq, and the impact his deployments had on the family. He also credited the military for being the vessel that taught him discipline and hard work, two characteristics that helped him get to where he is today.

It was a message that resonated with many in attendance, understanding the unique challenges members of the military and their families face. Representative of the Central Florida USO, Linda Carbone, said a few words as well, calling the military family ‘the force behind the forces.’ In stressing that the night was about the families in attendance, she told parents of small children to ‘let them be loud’ to which a toddler cried out ‘yay!’ resulting in thunderous laughter from the crowd.

It was a playful reminder of why this award is so important to the Buccaneers, the USO and the Schwarzkopf family, themselves. The family is truly the driving force behind the men and women that keep our nation free.  It was General Schwarzkopf’s daughter, Cindy, a self-proclaimed ‘military brat’ herself, that said it best:

“It is love of country that sends them away, but it is love of family that brings them back home.”