Red Bull gives you wings” a famous advertising campaign suggests. But a local group of racing enthusiasts are just hoping the energy drink can help supply some hot wheels to go with their fashionable facial hair.
A team representing O’Daly’s Irish Pub will compete this Saturday in the Red Bull Soapbox Race 2015 in Atlanta. Their homemade human-powered vehicle is not only going for a national title, but also promoting a very worthy cause.
Matt LeMond, the owner of the downtown Mobile establishment, is the crew’s ringleader. Two years ago, he registered O’Daly’s to compete in Red Bull’s Flutag (German for Flight Day). Competitors attempt to fly crafts — again, homemade and human powered — a certain distance.
“We shocked ourselves,” LeMond told Lagniappe. “It actually flew and we finished in third place.”
This time, the Red Bull Soapbox Race came close enough to Mobile to make it worth a trip. Working on the vehicle are LeMond’s wife, Samantha; Allen and Danielle Williams; and Rhys Sharp.
“We are excited about the competition,” LeMond said. “The event moves around the country, so we were happy to see it come to Atlanta. It has lately been in Denver and Portland.”
LeMond does have some experience, having taken part in the 2009 soapbox event in Atlanta. Sharp competed in the Tampa Flutag in 2008 plus the Denver Soapbox in 2008 and the Atlanta Soapbox in 2009.
The competition is not just about speed. As the website (www.RedBullSoapboxRace.com/usa-atlanta/en/home/) states about creativity: “Finishing first doesn’t mean you’ll automatically win. Speed is nothing without a little personality.” For the final judging, it states, “Racers will also need to wow us with their stage routine and dazzle us with their showmanship.”
The local group is going by the name MO’Daly’s Mustache Mayhem. The theme will follow a certain insurance company’s campaign to assist with their music, choreographed dancing and skit.
The moniker also reveals the more serious part of this adventure. The Mobile team is getting an early start on recognizing Movember, when people are asked to grow out their facial hair to raise awareness for men’s health during the month of November.
“We are big supports of Movember,” LeMond said. “We will be close to the month, so this is just a way to kick things off. Everything will be related to the mustache.”
The teams must race against the clock while negotiating turns and jumps on North Avenue in Atlanta. Those wishing to support the O’Daly’s team can log on to the Red Bull Soapbox site and vote for them to win the People’s Choice Award.
MSA reports record year
It must be the season for economic reports. In last week’s column, I discussed the impact the Senior Bowl has had on local business.
This week, it is the Mobile Sports Authority (MSA). With its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the organization proudly announced it has attracted and/or hosted a record number of sporting events for Mobile County.
MSA dealt with 32 sporting events during the fiscal year. The report credits these games with generating an estimated $20.7 million. There are 22 different sports on the list, including gymnastics, tennis and volleyball.
“With the tremendous support of Mobile County, the city of Mobile and a very engaged board of trustees, we at the Mobile Sports Authority are proud that we were able to generate such a significant impact for the Mobile area economy,” Danny Corte, MSA executive director, said. “Since October 2011, the MSA has attracted, hosted, managed or co-managed 95 sporting events which have generated an estimated $66 million for Mobile County. The future looks just as bright as we continue to tell our story about our beautiful area to numerous regional and national sports event owners who are looking for places to play.”
Prior to this fiscal year, the best totals were 22 sporting events in 2012 and $17.1 million in economic impact in 2014. To learn more about the group, visit www.MobileSportsAuthority.com.
● USA’s Gerald Everett has been recognized for his play. He is on the mid-season watch list for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the most outstanding collegiate tight end.
In his first year with the Jags, the junior leads the team in receptions (26), touchdown catches (6) and total touchdowns (7). He is second in receiving yards (375).
● Spring Hill College sophomore Nicole Kotval made history when she was picked by the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as Performer of the Week in women’s cross country. No SHC athlete in any sport has won a conference award since the school moved to NCAA Division II in fall 2014.
Kotval was the top SHC finisher at the Foothills Invitational hosted by Jacksonville State. She was ninth with a time of 18:53.04, the sixth-best 5-kilometer effort ever by a Lady Badger.
● A total of 105 student-athletes were recognized at USA’s Academic Achievers Breakfast. Everyone in the group recorded at least a 3.5 grade point average, with 42 achieving a perfect 4.0. USA President Dr. Tony Waldrop said more than 50 percent of the school’s players had a 3.0 GPA or greater.
In another event, the Lady Jags softball team had 10 current and former players named All-America Scholar Athletes by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). USA has had at least seven honorees each season since 2007.
The USA women’s soccer team earned an academic award from the National Soccer Coaches Association. The Lady Jags had a 3.4 GPA for the 2014-15 academic year.
● The women’s softball team at Spring Hill was also honored by the NFCA. The Lady Badgers had nine players receive All-American Scholar-Athlete awards.
● Chardé Hannah was named the Sun Belt Conference’s player of the week in women’s soccer. In two games, she scored twice and added an assist in a pair of double-overtime victories.
● Bailey Nations and Jessica Bagwell of the University of Mobile were named Volleyball Attacker and Defender of the Week, respectively, by the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC). This is Bagwell’s second honor this year, while Nations was named SSAC player of the week in each of the previous campaigns.