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THE HEART OF THE CITY

By: Larissa Magera


With its Honky Tonk restaurants and live band performances, “Music City” is undoubtedly a city with soul. But for a few days in December, Nashville’s streets are filled with another sound: the booming of the city hosting the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Serving the City For the Nashville community, the impact of the Music City Bowl resonates especially strong. Created for the purpose of boosting what was originally Nashville’s slowest week for tourism, the bowl maintains a deep commitment to improving its surrounding communities. Franklin American Mortgage Company president and CEO Dan Crockett emphasized the importance of service to his company’s philosophy: “I had this vision in my mind of what I thought a businessman should be. One of the key words we talk about every single day…is service. If you don’t love your customer and they don’t love you back, you won’t be successful.” The Music City Bowl has certainly served Nashville: since its beginning in 1998, the bowl has brought in more than $241 million to the city–about $15 million per year. With an annual average of 36,000 visitors, bowl week has become one of Nashville’s biggest tourist draws. Serving the Individual Numbers are not enough to understand the impact that bowl games have on individuals. As part of the Music City Bowl’s efforts to serve its community, the Franklin American Mortgage Company sponsors the Tradition of Service Award, a $2,500 scholarship given to a Middle Tennessee high school student-athlete who has demonstrated exceptional community service and academic excellence. This year, Kyle Anderton and Jacob Cretin were awarded scholarships during the coaches’ luncheon. “They’re both such wonderful young men that I wanted to honor each of them,” Crockett said about his decision to pick two recipients this season. Another individual receiving special recognition at the coaches’ luncheon was local football player Murphy Chambliss. After being diagnosed with leukemia this past July, Murphy was unable to play during the 2014 season, his last season at Franklin Road Academy. Now in remission, Murphy served as the honorary captain of the Music City Bowl. Serving the Future One of the bowl’s most notable contributions to the surrounding communities is its Youth Football Program. Each year, the bowl provides member leagues with the funds they need to purchase equipment, build youth programs, and cultivate a love for football among more than 20,000 players, coaches, and cheerleaders across 80 communities. Through its partnership with Delta Dental, the bowl also provides mouth guards to ensure the safety of its players. Participants are then invited to share their love of football with Nashville during the bowl’s Champions Ceremony, where the Youth Football Program’s age-division championship teams are recognized at LP Field before they take their seats to watch the game. For many of the players, the bowl’s Youth Football Program is their only opportunity to witness the highly competitive world of college football. Frank Oman, head coach of the Giles County Redhawks Youth Football Program, credits the program with providing increased opportunities for young players to experience the sport. “Without this program, 99 percent of our kids would never see a college bowl game,” Oman said. Roc Batten, another coach involved in the Giles County Youth Football Program, recognizes the positive response from the children involved in the Program. “The more we come to this environment, this atmosphere, the more [the players] want to come,” Batten said. “You can see the enthusiasm–[the programs] have a great impact in their lives.” Both Oman and Batten believe the opportunities provided by the Youth Football Program have the potential to be life-changing, largely because they encourage participants to dream bigger. Oman emphasizes the program’s role in developing a love of football among young players. “The biggest thing…is getting exposure to collegiate athletes,” Oman said. “This gives [the kids something] to focus on for the future because it could be them on the field. It allows them to strive for their goals and reach a little bit higher than maybe what they would normally strive for because they remember this experience and they remember they want to be a part of that on the field.” Batten echoes this sentiment and adds that the influence of the Youth Football Program inspires players to better themselves. He believes the programs teach kids that they are responsible for building their own futures. “The [Youth Football Program] motivates [the players] to do good [sic] in school so they can do good–so they have opportunities to move up and go to the next level and maybe one day play for the Tennessee Titans,” Batten said. With its economic and far-reaching impact on communities, individuals, and teams, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl brings out the best in Nashville. Its effects are both numerous and personal, and they remain long after the stadium is emptied. Regardless of the game’s outcome, winners are made–because the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl takes over the city of soul…and goes straight to the heart.