Cover Story: From start to finish

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NHS seniors Erik Forbes and Dillon Joyce have been involved in Super Bowl XLVI from the beginning

As the state of Indiana prepares for hundreds of thousands of football fans to visit this week, two Noblesville High School seniors had a hand in Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl – literally.

“You feel proud. You feel a part of it,” Dillon Joyce said.

“You’ll never forget it. You’ll tell your kids and grandkids,” added Erik Forbes. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

To present a more community-based bid, the Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl Bid Committee selected 32 central Indiana eighth-grade students to hand deliver the city’s bid to all NFL owners four years ago. Joyce and Forbes were selected by former Noblesville Middle School Principal Dan Chapin because teachers described the two as “outstanding young men who always do what they are asked to do and are leaders in the classroom.”

The 32 students attended a training session at the Colts’ facility and learned which city they would visit. Their destinations were determined by the luck of the draw. Each student selected a brown paper bag with a team jersey in it and was assigned to the team whose jersey was inside. Joyce and Forbes had the 30th and 31st pick, respectively, and knew the three remaining teams were Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle.

When Joyce delivered the bid to the Philadelphia Eagles, he became an instant fan of the team. During his visit, Joyce said he toured and had lunch at the training facility, met players and was given game-worn jerseys from the laundry room. The Eagles owner’s driver then gave him a personal tour of the city and the team’s stadium.

“They gave me bags and bags of everything. I got treated like royalty in Philadelphia,” he said. “I’ve followed the Eagles since then because of how they treated me and meeting the guys.”

Forbes recalls his visit to San Diego like it was just months ago, not years.

“I had a long flight,” he said with a smile. “I sat with the box on my lap and the flight attendant told everyone what I was doing.”

When Forbes landed in California, he immediately felt like a superstar as a limo driver held a sign with his name on it. After delivering the bid packet, Forbes was given a tour of the Chargers facilities where he met Darren Sproles and Luis Castillo – “The biggest dude I’ve ever seen,” said Forbes. Following his visit, Forbes and his dad went and toured an aircraft carrier and attended a San Diego Padres baseball game, where he caught home-run balls during the game and batting practice.

“I remember everything from that day – I can see every room and person I met,” Forbes said.

Both said they knew the special delivery meant more to the other owners.

“It made a statement, made the city stand out,” Joyce said.

“The Chargers owner told me he had received other bids by mail and he thought it was cool that one was hand delivered,” added Forbes.

Every student who delivered a bid has been serving as a Student Ambassador ever since.

“They want to keep us involved because we brought the Super Bowl to Indy,” Forbes said.

While the two don’t get tickets to Sunday’s game, they will be front and center in all the festivities leading up to the game this week. As part of the welcome baskets for owners, each student was photographed with the IndyCar designed for their team and wrote a welcome note.

“We want to make everyone feel welcomed,” Joyce said.

As Student Ambassadors, Joyce and Forbes have been excused from school to volunteer with their very hectic schedule. On Monday, the seniors worked downtown from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“This week is going to be super busy,” said Joyce. “Everything going on is absolutely crazy!”

Forbes said their roles include activities in Super Bowl Village to volunteer programs around Indianapolis and at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. The two recently participated in a “Super Kids, Super Sharing” event, which collected school and sport supplies to provide to less-fortunate students.

“The Super Bowl Host Committee is using the Super Bowl to promote other programs in the city,” said Joyce. “They’ve broken every goal, every standard they set for themselves.”

Being a part of the process firsthand has opened the students’ eyes to the impact of hosting a Super Bowl.

“It impacts the community; it’s more than just a game. We’re seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff that brings it all together. The host committee is trying to affect every part of Indiana,” said Joyce. “It means more to Indy than other cities because it’s our first go around and we want it to come back.”

“Everyone is so enthusiastic and committed. It means so much to everyone,” Forbes added.

The experience will not only provide plenty of memories for the Student Ambassadors, but possible connections for later in life. Forbes and Joyce have been invited to attend the NFL Career Expo and will attend events with owners and corporation CEOs.

“It lets us meet people,” said Joyce. “We get to rub elbows with the bigwigs out there.”

 

By Robert Herrington
robert@youarecurrent.com

Robert is the managing editor of Current in Noblesville

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