Many "thanks" and wishes of good luck were given by the Kent community to the Kent State University Golden Flashes football team Wednesday night, as the team readies itself for its first bowl game since 1972.
The Flashes will play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl game against Arkansas State in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 6.
Nearly 250 fans in the local community lined up for send-off the event at the Laziza restaurant in downtown Kent, where former head football coach Darrell Hazell and team members signed commemorative posters and thanked all for their support.
"I honestly didn't expect this many people with students on break," said senior place kicker Freddy Cortez. "We're very grateful for the support, and it goes to show what winning football games can do for the community. Their support for us helps to motivate us to want to go out there and perform better, not only for the university, but for the community."
Following the signing session, fans made their way to the corner of Erie and South Water streets to witness a flag-changing ceremony atop the new Ametek, Inc. building. KSU Golden Flashes flags were raised and replaced the eight flags representing the foreign countries where the firm has manufacturing operations.
"This is just excellent," Hazell said. "The Kent community has been fantastic. I can't say enough good things about them."
After the flags were raised, Hazell, fans and members of Kent's business community headed to the Water Street Tavern to broadcast the Portage Community Band Bowl Preview Show.
Hazell said the Flashes are revving up for the big bowl game.
"We'll prepare extremely hard, and I'm very confident our guys will play with a great amount of passion and wear that Kent State uniform with great pride," he said.
Cortez said with final exams behind the team, the only thing standing in the way of bringing home the victory is Arkansas State.
"It's nice to get our minds focused on the game and we don't have to worry about any other things that can interfere with what we have to do," he said. "We can give 100 percent focus on this game and go out there and bring back the first bowl win for Kent State."
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