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Friday, May 6, 2016

Turning tragedy into a dream for area kids

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Games for area Mighty Mite football teams start this Saturday. The season culminates with the Doug Mowris Super Bowl held at the end of the fall season. In the photo above, members of one of the Monett Mighty Mite teams practice their blocking. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
It's not the typical Super Bowl game, but local residents know when it comes time for the Doug Mowris Super Bowl, that there is more than football at stake.

"My husband's main goal was to teach kids how to play the game of football and that it didn't really matter if they won or lost," said Michelle Mowris of Aurora. "What mattered was learning how to play the game and loving it."

The Doug Mowris Super Bowl is the culmination of Mighty Mite football play in the early fall. It is named for Mowris, who died in service to his country in Afghanistan in 2004.

"Doug loved football, and we are a football family," Mowris said. "Doug was a semi-pro player in Scotland. My son played Mighty Mite football and Doug was his coach from third through sixth grades."

Because one of the things Doug loved was football, Michelle learned the sport by sitting next to him on the couch and asking questions.

"I knew I'd better learn to love the game if we were going to spend time together," she said.

His passion for the sport led him into coaching his son's team for the few rounds that they were allowed to play each season.

"It was Doug's idea to start the Super Bowl," Michelle said. "He said it was a shame to have the kids practice so hard every night just to play six games in the season. So we got a few teams together and planned the Super Bowl."

But Doug's second passion, the military, demanded his service and he was proud to comply.

"I fell in love with him because he loved the military so much," Michelle said. "It was truly his passion. It was his job and he loved it."

"When he was called to active duty and had to leave he wasn't able to be as active in coaching," she continued. He was not home much while our son was in sixth through eighth grades."

The Army and Army National Guard Reserves took the military man to distant parts of the globe, from Desert Storm to Kosovo, Guan-tanamo Bay and finally Afghanistan.

"He would be home for anywhere from seven to nine months and then be off again," Mowris said. "While he was home, we did as many family things together that we could. When he was gone, it was like our lives were on hold. We never knew when he was coming home again."

It was just three months shy of her husband's eligibility to retire from the military when Mowris received notification that Doug had been killed in Afghanistan.

"That was January 2004," she said. "It was devastating."

By the time fall rolled around, it was once again time for Mighty Mite sign-ups, Mowris and her children decided to go ahead and participate in the program.

"We still buy the medals," Mowris said. "There are 25 to 35 kids per team and there are eight teams," she said. "Every kid who plays in the Super Bowl gets a medal."

Teams for the Doug Mowris Super Bowl are chosen based on their standings in Mighty Mite play, just like the adult games are managed. Teams participating this year include Aurora, Monett, Cassville, Mt. Vernon and Reeds Spring. Donations are made to assist the Mowris family in purchasing trophies and medals for the players.

This year's Doug Mowris Super Bowl will be held on Oct. 23 in Monett.

"This is our seventh year and people have been great," Mowris said. "It's wonderful to see the people of these towns pulling together to support this program instead of the usual rivalry."

For Mowris, it's more than just the game and an ever-changing roster of players.

"I do this because it's what Doug would have wanted," she said. "To me, it's also about the flag, about patriotism, and about all the service people who are fighting for our country.

"This program is a creative outlet for me," Mowris said. "It's a way for my kids and I to commemorate Doug and one of the things he loved most in life."

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