Cover the Assignment: 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl!


2015 Medal of Honor Bowl – The Citadel, Charleston, SC

Linda Dennis, Program Manager

With a slight chill in the air, it was a perfect afternoon to attend a football game, in order to “Cover the Assignment” and build a “Backpacker” Lesson Plan that will help young scholars learn how to become sports journalists!   A Backpack Journalist has often covered assignments at military functions where we once interviewed US Army Ranger Leroy Petry a Medal of Honor recipient, met leaders who daily make a difference in our lives serving in  a nonprofit,  interviewed attendees at events and conferences, and even worked a Presidential Inauguration.   Our “backpackers” have been enriched by all of these experiences!

Cover the Assignment – 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl

2015 Medal of Honor Bowl - The Citadel, Charleston, SC
2015 Medal of Honor Bowl – The Citadel, Charleston, SC

The City of Charleston and The Citadel were the perfect hosts, along with multiple other sponsors from the Low country, for the Medal of Honor Bowl, honoring Medal of Honor recipients, benefitting the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation at Patriot’s Point, disabled veterans and The Wounded Warriors project (SC).

The roster featured 102 college players from around the nation, including 75 who competed on the FBS level, and all 10 conferences represented.  The remainder came from the FCS ranks (14), Division II (12), and NAIA (1).  Sitting up in the press box, a host of scouts and NFL representatives along with members of the national press view and covered the game.  NBC Sports broadcast live!

The pre-game Fan Fest opened up early on game day and engaged families with children and provided exhibits to climb or bounce in!   The Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders were on hand and as Jakene Ashford, their coach, shared: “It is an honor for us to be here, honoring the Medal of Honor Recipients.  This game is more than just football!”

Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd  stood for hours in front of a long line of fans which included children of all ages, signing autographs and spending time with each!   While waiting to meet Tajh, a fan shared “Tajh is my favorite Clemson quarterback player in all time.  His throwing arm was amazing.  Not all quarterbacks can throw the ball like he could!”

The University of South Carolina two-sport athlete, Bruce Ellington, also was on hand to meet and greet the fans. Found amongst the crowd also were mascot dogs, lots of great food and live entertainment in the stage area.  Julius Coker, the main singer with the US Fleet Forces Band (pop), shared with us that they drove from Norfolk “just to play and sing and to honor the Medal of Honor recipients.”    Following this band, came the Brady Smith Band, live and on stage.

So back to the construction of this Lesson Plan!  Our objective is to convey to the scholar the importance of pre-planning and to research any sports event prior to the arrival!  With social media and the use of an updated and informative website (, that made it easy to come prepared!  Arriving early was important, and all of our gear (CANON EOS) ready to go.    With our background serving the military demographic, we knew about the incredible importance of the Medal of Honor to our nation and our freedoms, having actually interviewed a recipient previously and collecting their stories.  We regularly visit the Medal of Honor Museum located at the USS Yorktown, and have enjoyed the exhibits containing the stories of bravery and honor.

Then, there is the roster, filled with a diverse list of football players from around our nation!  Athletes and winners in every way, and perfect role models for our scholars!  Also, being evaluated by the scouts and the NFL.

So here is a short list of what we will include in our Lesson Plan 101:  Scholastic Journalism found at a Football Bowl Game!

  1. Research the Medal of Honor award. What is this award? Why is it important to our nation, and choose one recipient to research and write a short article. If still here with us (alive), you may also request to interview via the phone! Prepare your questions, based on the information provided with their award. Or, if not alive, then write a thank-you letter to your person chosen for your research.
  2. Using the website as a basis for your research, write a letter that would persuade a possible sponsor to continue to support this event! You may also visit our Photo Collection for possible photos of this year’s events.
  3. The City of Charleston and The Citadel. Both have significant websites and available information on their community support and outreach. Draft a list of ten reasons to hold an event in the City of Charleston and at The Citadel! (Charleston, the Holy City, has been ranked the #2 destination in the world for a vacation, so now a Football Bowl?)
  4. Visit the Photo Gallery, and pick out three to five photos that you think best describes the 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl, and then write captions to help the reader! You do not need to include the names of the people/faces, but describe the activity and the outcome that you see.
  5. Take a look at the half time photos, and at the SC State University Band, as they prepare to go on the field, and then on the field. Describe their team building exercises, and then write a short review of how they prepared before going on the field. Lots of photos to choose from. (BTW – they were awesome!)
  6. Lots of photos are of the behind the scenes areas, such as the PRESS ROOM. Using the photos showing the PRESS BOX that overlooks the stadium and action, become a reporter and draft, then write, three to 5 sentences that would describe an action on the field. Use any one of the several photos that show field action, including the coin toss. (The PRESS ROOM also had separate areas for the Scouts and NFL! The draft is ahead, and all of these 102 players were being evaluated!)
  7. The roster. There were 102 players from colleges all across the United States, assigned to two teams: The American and National Team. Create your own two teams, develop new names for each and then write a short descriptive paragraph for each. At the Medal of Honor 2015, one team was in blue and the other white. Seek out the one photo that shows a player bringing in “Old Glory!”
  8. Opening ceremonies and the half-time activities at a football game help make the fan experience a success!   Get creative. Draft your opening and describe it using an outline of numbers or bullet points. Note: The Medal of Honor Bowl offered up a great opening ceremony with 15 Medal of Honor Recipients escorted in by the Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders, the national anthem sung by a member of the military, an Honor Guard and supported by taps played by a another military member in uniform. The half-time included a live performance of “Stand tall” by Marine Lt. Col. Mike Corrado, the parents of Kyle Carpenter, a recent Medal of Honor recipient from Columbia, South Carolina while a video of military service members played on the big screen behind the field post. Then it was time for the SC State University Band to take over the field! They did, with great movement and reverence for our nation! More great music from John Ford Coley at halftine!.
  9. After reviewing all of the photos, reading over this lesson plan, decide which you’d like to choose as a career and research and then, write about it. Career choices: Meeting planner (plans out the entire football bowl game), Reporter or photographer or videographer, Scout (looking for players for their team), Football player (whether drafted into the NFL or not), Athletic coach or staff, Band leader (or musician), police or security officer, caterer or food services, volunteer staffing, member of the US Military.
  10. Using social media applications, how would you assemble a “Twitter/Instagram/Facebook plan to cover the Medal of Honor Bowl from the preplanning stages to the final outcome: Game Day, January 10, 2015! Organize it in a timeline, i.e. 12 months out to Game Day! Provide the content for one tweet/one Instagram and overview of a Facebook page.

CLOSING CHALLENGE:  let’s make a simple chant to sing in honor of the Medal of Honor Bowl! It can be to rap or pop, but must contain the descriptions of all the elements and activities!

Outcome/expectations: each scholar will write proficiently. Expanded learning to include the true meaning of patriotism, our nation’s history, team building exercises, broadcast and general interviewing technigues, small group work, role plays, career choices, reflective activities, active viewing, brainstorming, technology, prioritizing.Who would have thought that a football game would have such an array of learning activities!

Our task now is the align this to the standards and the common core!  Right?

Thank you to the planners and sponsors of the Medal of Honor Bowl – 2015. See you next year!

To view over 100 photographs, please visit