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North Port Athletic Rewind

Mitey Mites visit Raymond James

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants were not the only teams to take the field in front of a sellout crowd at Raymond James Stadium on October 1. The North Port Mustangs also got in on the action.

The Mustangs’ Mitey Mites team, led by coach Jeff Bigelow, played an exhibition against the Sarasota Sun Devils during halftime of the National Football League matchup. In total, 168 players, coaches and parents from the Mustangs organization made the trip to Tampa to watch 26 Mitey Mites make their professional football debut. When halftime rolled around, Bigelow said, his players, all 8- and 9-year-olds, were not nervous to take the field in front of the 66,000 fans in attendance.

“They were fired up,” he said. “It’s one of the coolest experiences I’ve had as a coach.”

Before the game, Bigelow said, the Mustangs spent the morning tailgating. He said it meant a lot that so many members of the Mustangs family attended the game, especially since the Mitey Mites’ invitation to play during halftime had come just two weeks earlier.

“It says a lot about our community,” he said.

The Mustangs’ matchup lasted just under 10 minutes, and though they did not keep score, the experience left everyone involved feeling like a winner. Bigelow said he especially enjoyed getting to see his players on the giant jumbotron and the experience of getting his team revved up inside the tunnel before halftime.

“It was so loud in the tunnel,” he said. “It was wild.”

Though the Mitey Mites were the only team to go professional this season, Bigelow said it was a great year for the Mustangs organization overall. Nearly every team finished the season with a winning record, including the Pee Wee and Junior Pee Wee teams, which both earned spots in the playoffs.

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