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Pro athletes featured attraction at Brandeis sports show

By Dave Ostrowsky

Section: Arts

April 8, 2005

Patriots Day is officially April 18th. For the Brandeis/Waltham community Patriots Day was this past Sunday at Gosman Arena. Current and former Patriots players including Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Roosevelt Colvin and Doug Flutie were present on this final afternoon of the three day long autograph and memorabilia show. The Brandeis womens basketball team sponsored this event through Amanda DeMartinos dad, Bob, who is the co-president of ABN Sports. Sports ID, one of the top Boston sports marketing agencies, represented the players involved.

The Lady Judges main goal through holding the exciting event was to raise enough money to pay for a trip to Costa Rica this upcoming summer, where the team would have a chance to socialize and most importantly play basketball in an all expense paid vacation. Unfortunately they fell just short of achieving that goal, and will have to delay the trip until the summer of 2006.

The womens basketball team saw a fairly good turnout on Sunday, however the crowds for Fridays and Saturdays showcases were quite unimpressive. Former Red Sox All-Star outfielder Jim Rice drew the biggest reception upon the first two days of the memorabilia showcase. Unfortunately, former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, who was expected to appear on the earlier days, cancelled only two weeks prior to the event. Regardless of the turnout, the womens team took great pride in the fact that they were the ones responsible for bringing these revered professional athletes to Brandeis.

This is a huge deal for us, we were very excited when we found out we were going to have this setup. Its really exciting for us to have all these celebrities come down and have signing, sophomore guard Basia Grzyb stated.

Warren, Wilfork and Colvin may have only been around for an hour, but their hands were never kept cold. Whether it was posing for a quick photo opportunity or signing an autograph, the three gentlemen from the Patriots were talking it up with everyone around. While many pro athletes are reserved when it comes to talking with the media, they could not have been more receptive.

After the opening act, came the man of the hour, Doug Flutie. Flutie pulled a Schillingesque appearance, donning an authentic Red Sox uniform to the signing tables. The faithful who came to see Flutie waited for over an hour for the Natick legend to come out and give his John Hancock. It was worth the wait, as Flutie made sure they all went home happy, signing for every single fan. He was clearly the main attraction of the entire show, as people were constantly talking and asking about him even in front of the world champion Patriots.

Gerald Phelan, the man who caught the immaculate reception from Flutie, sat in the adjacent table but did not receive nearly the amount of attention that Flutie did.
There was not a large contingent of Brandeisians present (surprise, surprise), but a decent sized crowd of residents from neighboring cities such as Cambridge and Newton as well as Watch City residents were on hand.

It was kind of a shame, I was thinking there should be more of a bigger turnout, the ever polite Gryzb said.

The players on the team were not the only ones to notice the rather disappointing showing from a college community.

An anonymous card dealer stationed at a booth remarked, It was not one of our better ones, it wasnt as well attended as we were hoping.

The autograph stations were only a small part of the carnival like setup. Booths such as the one previously mentioned that contained sports photos, memorabilia, baseball cards and uniforms galore surrounded the hundreds of autograph hungry sports fans. However, much of the focus was on the autograph signing (understandably so).

Ty Warren, one of the three Patriots at the front and center of the autograph signing, really stressed how important it was to be able to reach out to the community through the autograph signing.

Besides all this honor and stuff the ultimate wish is to be well known for the community affairs and stuff like that. A lot of players do different charity type deals so were really involved in the community, he said.

Not to take anything away from the other big fellas that showed up, but one could search from the Berkshires to Montpelier, Vermont and not find a more warm and courteous athlete than Colvin. He explained how participating in this event is a way to say thank you to the faithful New England fans who attend games rain or shine.

I think regardless of the fan base here in New England area. I think its a tribute to them, you know their commitment to the sports teams in the area. For the guys its an opportunity to give back to the people who truly come on each Sunday, each game day regardless of whether its football, basketball, baseball, hockey teams just showing them we appreciate everything theyve done and they do for us, Colvin said.

For Colvin, however, coming out to events such as this one is more than just a public relations project. It is something that is important to him personally as well.

You try to get in contact with people so they can help you out and get you out in the area where you can come out and sign some autographs for the people because a lot of times with football players you dont get to see the person outside of their helmets, Colvin said.

Chances are this will not be the last fund raiser that Colvin attends while he is an NFL linebacker.

Ive done some in the past and Im a peoples person so I like to get out in the public and talk and have fun with people, he said.

On the earlier days, Friday night and Saturday afternoon, other notable guests included the aforementioned Rice, Steve Grogan, Andre Tippett, Monte Irvin, Bill Lee, and Wilbur Wood.

The Athletes in Beantown event is a prelude to the annual large autograph and memorabilia showcase exhibition, The Natural, being held in Chicago this upcoming July. At this monumental event, players present in the past have included superstars Troy Aikman and Joe Montana, although the chances of those names coming to Brandeis are about as good as there being a collegiate football team on South Street come next fall. However, both the coordinators of the event and the players on the team believe that it will be possible to hold another event with similar caliber players in the not so distant future, as this one was so well run and organized. Stay tuned (if youre interested).

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