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January 30, 2007 > In memory of a fallen comrade

In memory of a fallen comrade

By Steve Warga

It may not be as famous as Super Bowl XLI, the stakes aren't quite as high, and it won't draw nearly as many fans. But, it is (flag) football, it is an annual tradition for seven years running, and most of all, it really does matter to all who know the story behind the event. Fremont's very own Kirby Bowl VII takes place Saturday, February 3 at Irvington Park off Blacow Road at 1 p.m.

The event is the brainchild of James Latter, owner of Kirby's Sports Bar at the corner of Fremont Blvd. and Blacow Road. Some years ago, a long-time employee and manager of Kirby's, David Soares, told his boss about the untimely death of a young man, Rafael Garcia, a close friend. Both were standout athletes at Washington High School.

Latter was inspired to establish a fund-raising event that would relate to his sports bar's themes. Thus was born the official Kirby Bowl '8 on 8' Flag Football Championship; to take place every year the day before the Super Bowl.

For the past seven years, the same two teams have crouched in 3-point stances or stood for the snap, hands-on-hips, ready to huff, puff, grunt and groan their way to one more moment of athletic glory. Though the personnel may change from one year to the next, the teams are always designated as Danny's Deacons vs. Jame's Jackals, who eyeball-to-eyeball across the line of scrimmage, compete for the trophy and an entire year of bragging rights at their favorite bar.

Best of all, this effort and all proceeds go to the American High School Athletic Department, in the name of Rafael Garcia. It's heartland America at its finest right here in our own backyard.

The men's game is only part of the fun for spectators as the Kirby's Sports Bar guys yield the field at halftime to a women's "Powder Puff" exhibition game. Both events are video-recorded and then rushed to a secret editing room immediately after the game.

Following the game, everyone is invited to a BBQ, courtesy of Kirby's, where the "professionally edited" game films take over the TVs in the bar. Word is they're shown repeatedly until everyone is sick of them! But, just like a hangover, even post-game blues go away. So once the I-should-have-caught-that-pass blues are over, there will be plenty of further enjoyment of the recordings.

Team players are drawn from customers, employees, friends and vendors. Players contribute ten bucks and receive a jersey for their participation, plus all the ibuprofen they can stand. This money and all proceeds from bar sales that day go to the Rafael Garcia Memorial Fund at American High.

Last year's event raised over $1,000 dollars and Latter insists it'll be even more this year. It's a fine moment to enjoy some good laughs, spirited competition and gustatory delights.

And, as James Latter says, "We're glad to give a little something back to our community."

Saturday, February 3
Kirby Bowl VII
1 p.m.
Irvington Community Park
41850 Greenpark Drive, Fremont
(510) 657-9060

Complimentary BBQ
Saturday, February 3; after the game
Kriby's Sports Bar
42312 Fremont Blvd.
(corner of Fremont Blvd. and Blacow Rd.)

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