In 2008, Indianapolis wanted more than anything to host the 2012 Super Bowl, so it put its best minds into creating a bid that would astound NFL team owners. Then, it tapped 32 Indianapolis area eighth-graders to hand-deliver copies of it.
While those trips were very exciting for those eighth-graders in 2008, they are equally thrilled today, as seniors, to be part of the festivities leading up to the Super Bowl.
“It’s an honor,” said Joey Coachys, 18, Greenwood. “It’s neat to be able to say that I contributed to it.”
For most of them, the first inkling of their roles in this historic process started in early May 2008 with a summons from their principal or a visit from their school district’s superintendent. Shortly thereafter, they gathered with the other ambassadors at the Colts 56th Street Complex, where they drew an envelope from a basket.
Each envelope contained a number, which determined the order of the “draft” in which they would chose gift bags. Each bag contained an NFL team jersey, revealing where the student would be traveling to deliver their Super Bowl bid.
Levi Beasley, 17, Indianapolis, didn’t know much about football, but he knew about his team – the Green Bay Packers. “I knew they were a legendary team with Vince Lombardi and all that, so I was real excited.”
Teamed with their chaperones, usually their superintendents, the eighth-graders flew to their team’s city, where they were greeted by a limousine and one or more team representatives. Then they drove to team headquarters. Some kids only spoke to team owners; others managed to meet the whole team.
Darian White, 17, Indianapolis, was one of the lucky ones. Her team was the Atlanta Falcons, and she was given the royal treatment.
“We got a tour of the facility. They gave us lunch. We got to meet with a lot of the players. I was actually walking around and one of the players was like, ‘Hey, you have on my jersey!’”
That was defensive end John Abraham, and Darian knew who he was. “I’m a huge football fan. I always have been. I have three older brothers and then my whole family, all my cousins are boys.”
The students said there wasn’t much coaching on what to say, though they were given some material on key points they should make when delivering the bid.
Alaina Finkelmeier, 18, Carmel, recalled some of her sales pitch: “We said, ‘Well, Indianapolis is home to some of the nicest people in the country. We’re known for our hospitality. The city is going through all kinds of renovations right now in preparation and there’s definitely going to be room for everybody. … And yes, you might not be going to an excellent climate, but you’re not going to regret coming to Indianapolis.’”
The ambassadors returned to a town with high expectations. When the decision was announced later that month, everyone was joyous – and relieved.
“I felt like I did my part, along with all the other kids,” Levi said. “It made me feel really good.”
Since then, the ambassadors have kept in touch, getting together at least once a year for a community service project, such as helping to build playgrounds, plant trees and clean up parks — “just little things they’ve had us do, really to help us stay connected,” Alaina explained.
They are proud of what Indianapolis has accomplished, especially the redevelopment of the near-Eastside and the Legacy Center, and all of the improvements to Downtown.
Joey said as an eighth-grader, he thought Indianapolis was kind of boring. But the Super Bowl preparations have made him rethink that assessment.
"It is pretty cool, especially the way they changed Downtown and how we’ve gotten ready for it. It is exciting.”
The ambassadors didn’t get tickets to the game, but they got the next best thing: They were among the first to ride the zip line.
Copyright 2012 Y-Press