2023 was a year full of big wins for many Team IMPACT matched teams, and there was no better way to wrap up the year than with some big wins at bowl games! This year marked a historic bowl season, with Team IMPACT matched teams competing in nearly half of the 43 scheduled bowl games.
With support from our generous community, Team IMPACT was able to send our families on the road with their teams this bowl season. From Birmingham to Detroit, Charlotte to San Antonio, Boston to Tucson, Orlando to LA, and onto the National Championship, our families supported their teams from the stadium and from home. During these games, more than six million college football viewers and fans learned about Team IMPACT’s work through TV features, newspaper articles, and online pieces showcasing these incredible relationships.
Creed was packed and ready to head to Birmingham with his Duke Blue Devils when he unexpectedly came down with the flu and had to cancel his trip. But Team IMPACT and Duke brought the Birmingham Bowl to Creed instead, sending care packages, new swag, and encouraging messages. Creed watched from home with his cutout Blue Devil while his teammates carried around a Flat Creed to be included in all game day festivities. Even from home, Creed helped Duke pull of a 17-10 victory to become 2023 Birmingham Bowl Champions.
Three days later when Minnesota took the field in the Quick Lane Bowl, they did so knowing their biggest supporter, Mitchell, was in the crowd. Fans all across the country got a glimpse into the Gopher’s special bond with Mitchell when ESPN featured their friendship in the live game broadcast. See Mitchell’s time on air with ESPN here.
When UNC qualified for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, they knew they needed their teammate Lee there for the big game. Lee’s game day was made even more special when his parents surprised him with news that his best friend Andy was attending the game with him. Together, Lee and Andy had the ultimate Duke’s Mayo Bowl experience, talking to fans and media, wearing their favorite Tar Heels gear, running out of the tunnel with the team, playing catch on the sidelines, taking over Team IMPACT’s Instagram, and even getting to play catch with Carolina Panthers quarterbacks Bryce Young and Andy Dalton. Despite the loss, Lee was basking in the bowl game glory. “Yesterday was the highlight of my lifetime,” Lee shared with his family the next morning.
From the moment they were matched, Braxton and Arizona football knew they were right where they were meant to be. This season was their first together, and it was full of big wins with their secret weapon Braxton, who helped the team land the Alamo Bowl on December 28. News 4 was on the scene in Tucson during the Alamo Bowl to share Braxton and Arizona football’s incredible story. “It’s awesome to see him out here. He’s an inspiration to us,” Arizona player Tanner McLachlan shared in a press conference. “He comes with a smile on his face…We love having him around.” See more from Braxton and the Wildcats here.
On the other side of the country, Boston College was competing right at home at the Fenway Bowl—with dozens of Team IMPACT families, friends, and supporters cheering them on in the rain. The players wore Team IMPACT stickers on their helmets while the stadium showcased Team IMPACT’s logo and videos throughout the game. Thank you to the Fenway Bowl for giving our families such a special game day experience!
All season long, Charley has been practicing touchdown celebrations for when his Toledo Rockets score big. He got to show off those moves with his teammates at a nail-biter of a game at the Arizona Bowl. Although the Rockets lost by a walk-off field goal, Charley and his teammates created memories that will last a lifetime. WTOL 11 was there to share their story.
Gavin and his family packed their bags and left the snowy winter of Illinois behind for the sunshine of Orlando in this year’s Citrus Bowl. Gavin’s closest buddies on the team, Jayden Montgomery, Jacob Bostick, Yayah Black, and Marco Lainez, visited him at the hospital throughout the season, including just after selection Sunday, where they surprised him with news that he’d be joining them at the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. When YahooSports shared Gavin’s story, more than four and a half million readers learned about the incredible impact Gavin and the Hawkeyes have had on each other’s lives. Read more of their story here.
When Michigan took the field against Alabama in the College Football Playoff’s Rose Bowl, there were not one but two Team IMPACT families cheering them on in the crowd. Both Noah, who is matched with the football team, and Vara, who is matched with the dance team, made the trip out to watch Michigan make history. After a back-and-forth hard-fought game, Michigan pulled out the big W and will be headed to the National Championship next week—with Noah right by their side.
Congratulations to all 22 matched teams who qualified for this year’s bowl games, and thank you for a season full of fun and excitement!