WILDWOOD — Footballs and musical notes were sailing through the air on the beach off Schellenger Avenue Saturday at a unique event that combines rock bands with flag football.
As bands played on an oceanfront stage, men’s and co-ed flag football teams competed at the Free Summer Slam Sports & Music Festival sponsored by radio station 106.3 WJSE and the Philadelphia Soul arena football team.
A combination rock concert-football game may not seem to make sense until you see the symbol for the Philadelphia Soul, which is a football with a musical note attached to it. Then slant patterns and a band cranking out “Highway to Hell” make perfect sense.
“It’s normal for us to integrate music into football. We have concerts after our games,” said John Adams, the team vice president.
The team’s 16 cheerleaders, the Soulmates, and the players mingled with their fans during the day. The team just lost the championship game for the second year in a row, but this day at the beach is an annual way to thank the fans who supported them.
“We lost it on the last drive. We had it in our hands and didn’t do it again,” Adams said.
The players did not play in the flag-football contests, but the team executives did.
“I’ve got to go now. I’ll be right back,” said Adams, as he ran into his team’s game.
Alternative-rock bands Fuel, Hoobastank, Alien Ant Farm and Ballyhoo all played as the flag football teams competed on the sands between a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster.
“We’re hoping to make this the largest flag football tournament on the East Coast,” Adams said.
The tournament drew a local team from Wildwood called Laverdad that wasn’t quite used to the co-ed rules, which require a certain amount of passes to female receivers and other different rules from local leagues. The males on the team have played in Atlantic City, Upper Township and Egg Harbor Township but never entered the co-ed beach games until hearing about it recently on the radio.
“It’s a good experience to come out there and support the Soul,” Chris Hines, 32, of Wildwood, said.
Bichelle Harrison, 31, of Whitesboro, a former track star at Middle Township High School, said it was her first time playing football in about five years.
“I have to be more aggressive. I have to strategize and learn the plays,” Harrison said.
Her teammate Crystal Hines, 32, of Wildwood, a twin sister of Chris Hines, was happy with the two catches she made but said she has to learn to “twist my hips a little” to avoid giving up the flag.
Team Laverdad lost their first game, but manager Jackie Rodriguez, 25, of Wildwood, was happy, all things considered.
“They did awesome for the first time playing co-ed. They didn’t know all the rules, like alternating between boy and girl receivers,” said Rodriguez.
The event was a way to support the fans that supported the team during the just-completed season.
“It’s a thank-you to the season ticket holders and the fans. It’s a celebration of Philadelphia Soul fans,” said Tim Horan, who helped organize the event.
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