As the father of two former Charlotte Catholic quarterbacks – C.J. and Jack Brodowicz – Mark Brodowicz knows the annual showdown with Charlotte Country Day, dubbed the Cook Cup, is a big game.
He just wants to make it bigger — as in a Navy flyover, paratroopers and Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera bigger.
On Friday, Aug. 31, at Charlotte Catholic, the Cougars and the Bucs will square off in the 52nd edition of the Cook Cup. The two rivals also will share the spotlight in the inaugural Patriotism Bowl – A Celebration of Service. The game is the brainchild of Brodowicz, a former Naval airman.
“We’re billing it as the greatest spectacle in high school sports,” said Brodowicz.
The itinerary certainly backs up his goals. Beginning at 7 p.m., there will be a Navy flyover, and a five-man parachuting team will land on the field. The national anthem will be sung by veteran John Hyland, who lost a leg serving in Afghanistan. Hyland also sang the anthem at the 2010 Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race. The state’s vast Junior ROTC history also will be recognized.
The Charlotte Catholic stadium is being expanded to accommodate several military displays and flight simulators, and each team will wear special camouflage jerseys for the game. Rivera will perform the pre-game coin toss.
All sponsorship proceeds will benefit nonprofit organizations Operation Homefront, Carolinas Freedom Foundation and Purple Heart Homes. According to Brodowicz, $30,000 already has been raised from the event’s sponsorships.
As a board member for both Operation Homefront NC and the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, Brodowicz said he was looking for a way to raise money and awareness for veterans’ needs. He thought a high school football game would be the ideal arena for it.
While he hopes to include different teams and venues each year, Brodowicz said the Cook Cup is the perfect vehicle to spark interest.
“The rivalry is still as strong as ever, but people (from both schools) have been able to put the football aside and work together on this event,” said Brodowicz, adding that he hasn’t been surprised by the outpouring of support in the weeks leading up to the game.
“There’s a yearning in everyone’s heart for this kind of stuff,” Brodowicz said. “It’s great that enthusiasm and spirit is strong and alive in our community.
“I really think next year, the (Charlotte) community as a whole will get excited about it, and we’ll (aim to raise) six figures.”