For the second consecutive year, the Jaguars selected Duval Dynasty, the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida's NFL FLAG all-star team, to represent Jacksonville at the NFL FLAG Championships in Orlando. The championship tournament was held in late January in conjunction with the NFL's Pro Bowl Week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Coaches Rickie Simon Jr. and Troy Soloman led the group of 13- to 14-year-olds to compete on the national stage in one of the highest levels of flag football. In addition to Duval Dynasty, more than 70 youth teams from 24 states across four divisions competed in the annual culmination for the country's premier youth flag football program.
"The experience outweighed the competition," said Duval Dynasty competitor Marcus Solomon. "My experience was nothing less than amazing both years and an experience of a lifetime. Our team bonded and had a blast the entire trip."
CB Jalen Ramsey continued a Jaguars tradition when he and the Nike Jordan brand partnered to give each competitor a brand-new pair of Jordan football cleats to wear during the competition. Last season, RB Leonard Fournette surprised each member of the Duval Dynasty with a pair of Under Armour cleats prior to the championship.
Ramsey's cleat donation is one of several ways that the Pro Bowler has supported the local Boys & Girls Club. Last summer, the Smyrna, Tenn. native donated more than $10,000 after his Redfish 2.0 Tournament fundraiser. In addition, he gave away Thanksgiving meals to 20 families and bikes to 50 of its club's members during last year's holiday season.
"I grew up in the Boys and Girls club and my dad and brother are still actively doing something for the Boys and Girls Club back home in Tennessee," said Ramsey. "So I'm taking after him and growing as a man not just on the field but outside the field as well to not only make my family proud but the whole city of Jacksonville and Duval Country proud. Growing as a man, I want to do something to help if I'm able to. God has blessed me tremendously and I'm just trying to bless others."
Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida's mission is to educate today's young people about the importance of leading a life of positive health and wellness by introducing best practices for physical health, combined with a goal to achieve comprehensive, overall well-being that will last a lifetime. This past year they encouraged girls and boys, ages 5-16, to participate in the NFL FLAG program in three of their locations throughout Duval County to help achieve their mission.
"Flag football gives young athletes an opportunity to develop physical skills, grow in confidence and play a sport they love," said Boys & Girls Club CEO/President Paul Martinez. "NFL FLAG and USA Football provide the resources we need to deliver the fun and high-quality experience that our coaches, players and parents deserve."
The Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida noted that the partnership with the Jaguars and their implementation of NFL FLAG into their program has resulted in a tremendous jump in the club's retention rate by keeping teens engaged through the power of sports.