The XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers are quickly winning over the Plant City community and showed their appreciation again on Tuesday afternoon.
Plant City High School’s football players and coaches, who recently joined the pros on a volunteering venture at the United Food Bank of Plant City, linked up again on the Vipers’ practice field at Plant City Stadium. The Raiders got to watch a professional team work and then hang out with the players after they wrapped up for the day.
“It’s a neat experience,” PCHS head coach James Booth said. “Being right in our back yard, it’s a great opportunity for our guys to see some pro athletes and how they prepare. I think, most importantly, I want our kids to see what elite athletes look like, the preparation for what goes into a week of practice going into the game and hopefully our guys can see that. Hopefully it rubs off on them.”
While the Vipers players and coaches shook hands and chatted with the Raiders about the game, Mayor Rick Lott walked onto the practice field knowing only that he was invited to come out and watch the team. Vipers head coach and general manager Marc Trestman surprised the mayor with a personalized Vipers home jersey with the number 20 and thanked both Lott and the city for accommodating the team and its needs.
“I’ve had a couple opportunities to meet a lot of the players and get to know them a little bit,” Lott said. “They’re fine young men with a dream and a goal, and they’re giving 100 percent trying to reach that dream and that goal. I’m glad they’re doing it right here in Plant City. I’m very proud and I’ll wear this (to home games) on behalf of the City of Plant City. I think, as a city, we’re very, very proud to host home field operations for the Vipers. We have our high school players here today and they’re very proud of this. Hopefully they get inspired to play in college and, hopefully, be here one day playing in Plant City for the Vipers. It would be awesome.”