Today, you may have seen that the Tostitos brand announced it’s partnering again with the USO to bring college football to troops stationed overseas. Legendary college football coaches and players will play with active members of the military in a game we’re calling the "Connect to Home Bowl." The game will be held at an undisclosed military base in the Persian Gulf while college football bowl games are taking place back in the United States.
I had the opportunity of a lifetime last year to attend the first game Frito-Lay and the USO hosted in Iraq, and will be going back again with this year’s team. (That's me on the left during last year's trip.) The experience and opportunity was awe-inspiring, and frankly I can’t wait to join again. I came away with so many vivid memories...
• We visited multiple military bases, and I was moved by the time the soldiers, players and coaches spent together. You could feel the soldiers’ excitement to share in a moment that reminded them of home –- they seemed so appreciative of the journey the team made.
• The coaches and players were so incredibly giving. The trip was long; the schedule was hectic; and yet every time we were with the soldiers, both the players and coaches were engaged and enthusiastic. Sharing favorite football moments and even doing a little football “trash talking” made for a special, and even transporting, experience for both players and soldiers.
• The game! Everyone played all-out and the competition was real. It truly had a college game feel … tailgaters, cheerleaders, a band and announcers. Even a few foam fingers!!!
I can’t put into words the pride I feel working for this company when we launch programs as great as the "Connect to Home Bowl." But more important, it’s what the troops think and feel. Staff Sergeant Cecil Graham, who played in last year’s game, was quoted in the Associated Press and pretty much summed it up when he said:
“We have to keep going over here. A lot of people don't know what we go through over here. A lot of people have their own assumptions. But like Coach Switzer and Tony [Casillas] said, to know that people at home have our back, it's a blessing. It's unforgettable.”
I know this year’s game will be equally incredible. Thanks in advance to the soldiers, players and coaches for allowing me to be part of this. I look forward to sharing updates and stories from this year’s “Connect to Home Bowl" with you here on Snack Chat. You'll also be able to watch highlights from the game during the 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl halftime show from its ESPN broadcast and via www.facebook.com/Tostitos. So, stay tuned!