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  • 2017
Montgomery Marines become part of Magic City Classic family

By Cpl. Krista James, 6th Marine Corps District

In its 76th year, the Magic City Classic (MCC) is the highest attended Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) game in the nation, and draws an audience of nearly 200,000. The classic is the long-standing interstate rivalry between the Alabama A&M University Bulldogs and the Alabama State University Hornets, and is played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. 

This year Marines with Recruiting Station Montgomery, Aalabama, participated in the classic from 26-28 October, 2017, with the intent to increase awareness and consideration of the Marine Corps as a career opportunity among the African American population who attend this three-day event.

“The great thing about the Magic City Classic was building that relationship between the Marine Corps, the city of Birmingham, and the surrounding areas,” said Capt. Justin Gaines, the operations officer for Recruiting Station Montgomery. “Implementing the Marines into the classic shows those influencers the opportunities that we are able to provide to these young men and women, and it allows us to put our name out there to people who may have different perspectives on what opportunities are provided by the armed forces.”

Tim Brown, a Birmingham native who has attended the MCC for over 20 years, said that having the Marines at the classic allows some people the chance to explore the military as a means to pay for college, it’s an opportunity for someone looking for a career path, or someone that doesn’t have any direction for their career at the moment. 

The three-day event kicked off with a luncheon, a reception and program on Oct. 26, 2017, a team luncheon with both student athletes and representatives on Oct. 27, 2017, and a parade, tailgate party, in which the Battles Won Challenge trailer was set up, and presentation of colors at the game on Oct. 28, 2017. 

“The biggest take away for the Marine Corps is being able to be out there and supporting our community and student athletes. It shows that not only are we doing great things and winning our nation’s battles, but that we also support our local community on a daily basis,” said Gaines.

“Just them being here is doing something positive,” said Brown. “It offers people a different opportunity, and I think it gives a lot of positive messages about what they are doing for our community.”

The culminating event of the MCC was the implementation of the Battles Won Challenge trailer. The trailer consists of seven different challenges meant to test both the physical and mental capabilities of participants. The challenge is an all-encompassing obstacle course, in which the main purpose is to show that Marines must be both mentally and physically fit.

“The mental agility lab was an excellent addition. People think everything we do is physical, but 90% of what we do is mental. Putting that challenge at the end show that a lot of what we do is with our minds,” said Gaines. “Being able to react, make sound decisions in a timely manner when we’re stressed out, when we’re tired and cold, it’s what we do as Marines.”

The three-day event was a way for Marines to interact with influencers in the community, display how battles are won through the challenge trailer, and to ultimately become a part of the MCC family.

“It’s a big rivalry, but we all come out here to the Magic City Classic and it’s a great time to see each other, and to see friends that we haven’t seen in years,” said Brown. “It’s a great time for fellowship, it’s like a family tradition, the Magic City Classic family tradition.”

Brown continued on to say that with the Marine Corps participating in the classic this year that it is just another family tradition of the Magic City Classic, and a way for the classic to outdo itself every year.

He also ended with his and his community’s admiration and support for the armed forces of the United States.

“We’re proud of what the military does to protect and serve our country,” said Brown. “We support you and thank you, and salute you guys.”

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