On Saturday, Hobart High School played host to the state’s first football bowl game, the Inaugural America’s Crossroads Bowl. The game was a showdown between two of NCAA Division II’s top squads this year, the Ohio Dominican Panthers and Truman State Bulldogs.
The two teams hail from the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). They entered the bowl as the top teams in their conference that did not qualify for the NCAA Division II playoffs. While the teams were settled just a few weeks ago, plans for the Crossroads Bowl have been in the works for years. Bowl Director John Lynk of the South Shore CVA was on hand to see all the hard work come to fruition.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “I can’t begin to tell you how grateful these teams are and how respectful and appreciative they’ve been. Plus, the School City of Hobart and the City of Hobart have just been absolutely phenomenal to work with.”
The Bulldogs and Panthers were in the city for more than the game. They explored the community, visited elementary classrooms, led Hobart’s annual tree lighting, and stopped by iconic local establishments such as County Line Orchard and Albanese Candy.
“For them to get out there, visit our schools and read to our kids is just exceptional,” said Brian Snedecor, Hobart mayor. “These young children in our schools can see these collegiate athletes showing them respect and care. That means a lot to the kids in our school district.”
The commissioners of both conferences were on the sidelines throughout the game and saw the response that the Hobart community gave to their teams.
“It’s just been off the charts,” said Jim Naumovich, Great Lakes Valley Conference Commissioner. “The tree lighting was a lot of fun, and one of my big takeaways was when I spoke with a lady who worked behind the counter at one of the restaurants on Main Street. She left her store just to come out and thank us for being there. That’s indicative of how well we’ve been treated and how the community’s come out to support us.”
Snedecor said he would expect nothing less from his community.
“It just reaffirms my commitment to how special our community is,” Snedecor said. “We’ve always been known as a community who cares. Opening up to welcome all the visitors from these two teams just shows how special Hobart and the people who make up this community are.”
Since the game coincided with Pearl Harbor Day, the South Shore CVA and the City of Hobart organized some special events honoring veterans and first responders. Both teams had honorary captains who were World War II survivors, while the half-time show included performances of Amazing Grace, displays of the flag, and a show from the Hobart Police K-9 unit.
“It’s a great event,” said Tom Daeger, Great Midwest Athletic Conference Commissioner. “The experience in this part of the state has been really fun for our kids, and the opportunity for them to culminate their season in a setting like this is something that you don’t always get.”
Truman State came away from the game as winners, etching their name in history as winners of the first-ever America’s Crossroads Bowl. To learn more about the South Shore CVA, visit www.southshorecva.com.