Warrior Tournament of Champions 2013 – Official Report

Attending WarriorsJanuary 25-27, 2013
Lakeland, FL
By Jerry McGhee

I am truly humbled and thankful for the coaches who traveled thousands of miles from around this great United States of America to come and participate in this charity event by the Miniature Football Coaches Association’s (MFCA) Warrior Tournament of Champions in Lakeland, Florida! Thank you to all who participated, assisted with the set-up, tear down, referring, organizing, execution, and fellowship at this first ever Big Board scale electric football tournament!

The MFCA raised $220.00 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) through donations at this event. A SOWF representative, Wendy Borland, came to the event and she was very happy and pleased at this unique event and grateful for the donations that did come in. She took a lot of pictures and remembered the good ol’ days when she would see her brother with his electric football game; she was very impressed with how the game has changed and the fellowship of the participants who came to the event. Wendy was also very grateful of the coaches who traveled to this event and for the money that was raised. We all see a lot of potential for future events of this kind and planning has begun for next year.

Sixteen coaches from 10 states came to the Warrior TOC. Adrian Baxter (MD), Andrew Stewart (Philly), Vance Warren (DC), Will Travers (MD), Rafiyq (GA), Ajahaana (CA), David Nichols (AL), Gary Pate (AL), Bill Jones (GA), Charles Lane (TN), Packman (GA), Leroy Edwards (GA), Barry Stevenson (TX), Pep Woods (TX), Carl Coley (OK) and tournament organizer, Jerry McGhee (FL).

Coaches assembled on Friday and were allowed 6 hours to practice and get accustom to the big boards. A great deal of fellowship, fun was had by all and a lot of fun that night as many of the coaches ventured to the Winners Circle Sports Bar located next door for their comedy club and chicken wings.

The hotel had inadvertently double booked the room where the TOC was played due to the previous manager leaving and the new manager not aware of the MFCA contract. The hotel had asked if there was any way to complete the tournament prior to Sunday morning when a church was scheduled to use the room as a nursery and that if we could that they (hotel and church) would be grateful, and they would offer the MFCA a $500 discount for the room, however, if it was impossible to do so that the MFCA had priority since we booked the room first. In a true warrior spirit, the coaches of the MFCA played a solid 16 hours of electric football and completed the mission so the church could use the room for it’s nursery. The coaches were then free to enjoy the sunny and warm Florida weather on Sunday before many of them departed to go back home.

The coaches were divided into three pools: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie with five coaches in each pool. One coach scheduled to play Charlie pool had to cancel at the last minute, which was unfortunate, but we worked through it.

The three pools of coaches played 5 games each, with the top three coaches from each pool advancing to the final 8 and then 5 wild card slots.

The final 8 were narrowed to the semi-finals (final 4) and then to the finals with Adrian Baxter defeating Pep Woods in the first ever Warrior TOC championship game.

Four trophies were presented to the coaches in attendance. The Warrior TOC Champioship Trophy, the Warrior TOC runner-up trophy, the Warrior TOC Coaches’ Choice Best of Show trophy and a new traveling trophy for the MFCA TOC, the “Dead Last” trophy.

Adrian Baxter took top honors winning the Warrior TOC Championship Trophy.

Pep Woods was the Warrior TOC Runner-up.

Will Travers won the Warrior TOC Coaches’ Choice “Best of Show” trophy for his sportsmanship and the effort and detail put into this football team. This trophy was voted on by the coaches in attendance and Will received the most votes.

New comer to the MFCA and in his first tournament ever, Leroy Edwards from Atlanta won the Dead Last trophy. The intent of the Dead Last trophy is not to humiliate anyone, it’s given as a traveling trophy and Leroy was fully briefed on the spirit and fun this trophy is intended to create at the MFCA TOCs. Leroy may get-rid of this trophy by attending ANY MFCA TOC event and finishing greater than “Dead Last” at which time he will then hand it over to the next “Dead Last” qualifier who can in-turn get rid of it by attending the next MFCA TOC event, and so on, and so on.

The spirit and fun behind this traveling “Dead Last” trophy is to watch the person grow as a coach, recognize the humble beginnings and if the coach turns into a lethal champion, he can always help the coach who finished “Dead Last”. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve all been “Dead Last” in this hobby at one point or another and through careful mentorship, learning and execution, we grow, learn and become better. Leroy, I want to personally thank you for your humble spirit and graciousness at which you agreed to receive this first ever traveling trophy! We all want to see you hand this trophy off to the next guy as soon as possible. SO….if the “Dead Last” trophy comes in the house at the next TOC…don’t take it as a slam, take it for what it is, a fun and spirited award not a slam.

My wife, Kathie, graciously took the time to register the coaches as they came in. Kathie and my sons, Collin and Peyton, all tolerated me while I built game boards for this tournament. Thank you to all of them for their love, support and patience!

I want to thank Vance Warren for taking the time to come down and assist me in running this Warrior TOC. Together we filled out the pools and in the end it was a very tough and competitive field. The final four fielded three previous TOC champions, Adrian Baxter, Charles Lane, Pep Woods and soon to be TOC champion and rising rock star in this hobby and one heck of a VERY tough competitor Rafiyq! The brackets worked great and the field of attending coaches was a VERY competitive field, littered with league and TOC champions!

Many thanks are also due to the coaches who attended and volunteered to be a referee for the games, resolved and clarified the rules when questions came up and kept the games moving. Andrew Stewart, Barry Stevenson and Gary Pate did a great job referring the final four and championship games! Thank you for your assistance and doing a very professional job keeping the games going with no delays!

I want to thank George Diamond for developing the “Buzzball Motor”. All ten of the big boards that I built for this tournament were each powered using two “Buzzball Motors” on each field. These are by far the best motors I have ever put on an electric football game board in the 15 years that I have been building game boards. Having the right motors on these game boards was the only reason I could have this tournament! Any other kind of motor would have been child’s play and substandard. George…you are the man for having this motor developed!!!

In the final Four, Rafiyq and Pep played a double overtime game. This was TRULY an impressive game and one for the ages! All I can say about that game is WOW!! It was a shame someone had to lose. Charles and Adrian also had a very close and impressive game. It was great to see two TOC Champs duking it out in the final four!

The Championship game was also a very tough matchup between veteran 3 time defending MFCA TOC champ Adrian Baxter and the rookie Champ of the Land Rush TOC Pep Woods. It was late, these guys were exhausted, Adrian hadn’t eaten for hours and Pep was feeling the strain and wear and tear on the body that 16 straight hours of VERY competitive electric football can do on the body. It was a slug fest, but when you’re exhausted, you have to maintain your focus and this game came right down to the wire with Pep behind the champ with time expiring, Pep missed a crucial pass that could have tied it up. WOW!

A great deal of fun was had by all who attended. There was a lot of fellowship, a lot of smiles and a whole lot of VERY competitive football being played while raising money for a great cause. We made some new contacts here in the Lakeland area and it looks like we planted some seeds for new growth and members. Bill Alcock, owner of the “Winners Circle” sports bar in Lakeland, which is located right beside the Imperial Swan Hotel wants a custom Big Board in his bar and he wants to start a league on Monday nights! A lot of the coaches spent some time in the Winners Circle at the comedy club on Friday night and grubbin on some chicken wings throughout the tournament.

The Winners Circle Sports Bar wants to have the Warrior TOC tournament again next year and they want to host the final four and championship game in their bar, on their stage, under the lights while broadcasting it on some of their big screens and announcers to do the play-by-play. The Imperial Swan has also agreed to keep the lights on and the tourney room ready to go! So…make your travel plans to Lakeland, FL…coach up your squad, learn the big board because we’re doing this again next year, same time, same place and a little bigger venue! We’ll see you next year at the Warrior TOC II 2014!!

Jerry McGhee


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