Saturdays are often associated with sleeping in and relaxing after a hard day's work, but this past Saturday, the Miami Dolphins threw that old stereotype out the window, as the organization teamed up with City Year Miami and got up at the crack of dawn for the 22nd annual Fins Weekend, all in the name of improving children's education.
“There’s a lot said about a community and an organization that can come together for the benefit of our youth,” Fins Weekend Chair Jeff Peck said. “I’m amazed by the amount of character within the South Florida community that this event revealed. It shows that we make our greatest impact when we come together and work toward a common goal.”
However, this year differed slightly from the years that preceded it, as instead of stretching the weekend out for two days, everything took place on the one Saturday. So both the fishing tournament and the golf tournament took place at pretty much the same time.
The reason for this change?
"It's a little different," said former Dolphins wide receiver and current senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations. "Ironically it sometimes puts organizations in a position where they gotta choose whether they wanna fish or golf, but it's an opportunity to pull everything in tighter. It's a long weekend, but when you can do everything on one day, and then have a big party culminating it at the end, you raise more funds, and also you have less of an expanse because you didn't throw two or three parties."
So the team split up, with some going fishing out in the open sea, with others staying on land and driving golf balls across the green of Crandon Golf. Nevertheless, despite the split attention, the team never lost sight of the united stand, regardless of where they were.
"It's a great event," said Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain. "It's good to see people come out and enjoy themselves. Golfing, fishing, even with the party on Saturday, it's good to meet people and just be who you are around when they can see you without the pads on."
The first place winners of the golf tournament turned out to be Team Pepsi, with Mark Stokes, Gene Christman, Carl Carris and Ki-Jana Carter taking the prize: a flight on the team charter for a 2018 Dolphins away game.
But then the time came to head down to the Rickenbacker Marina, where the weigh-in for the fishing tournament began at 3:30, and it was there that many familiar faces made appearances for the first time in quite a while.
"It was awesome," said former Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline. "Nat Moore reached out, he reached out about coming back and my wife and I were on the first plane. He made it easy for us, it's so good to see younger players, so good to see older players and alumni, this event is always second to none so it's good to be a part of it."
Then there were alumni who had never taken part in the tournament, despite the event's 22-year history.
"It's a first time experience," said former Dolphins WR Chris Chambers. "I know the Dolphins have been doing this tournament for many years, one of the bigger events of the year ... everything I do is in the community, the Dolphins have always been great in the community, Nat Moore and the other alumni's been able to pull things together ... brings us closer as an organization as well."
Unity as an organization has been a major part of the Miami Dolphins' message this offseason, with all the talk of "culture change" and coming together as a team. The 2018 rookie class has been getting a crash course in that very concept, only this time it's more enjoyable.
"It's been awesome so far," said Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe. "Every event that we've done has been awesome but this one specifically, kinda getting out here and be able to do some fun things with people in the community. I actually love fishing. Did it all the time growing up, I actually have a trip planned in a few weeks. So I'm excited about it, it's awesome being around these fish and see how excited these people are getting about it."
The winners of the fishing tournament was Team Remix, with members Michael John Greisman, Rick Pruim and Alberto Suarez.
The event came to a close on Saturday night at the Miami Marine Stadium, where guests gathered to enjoy a live band, local fare, games, live auction and a fireworks show. This event is part of a four-year, $1 million dollar partnership between the Miami Dolphins and City Year Miami.
With all the work that went into this year's Fins Weekend, condensing all of the content into just one day, it's clear the franchise is more driven than other towards making a difference in the community. The culture change isn't just on the field it's off the field as well.
“This event is larger than just a fun day of fishing and golfing. It’s more than just a party and meeting the team you cheer for all season. This is a cornerstone event where the Miami Dolphins strive to do our part to make educational advances in our South Florida community,” Miami Dolphins Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Jehn said. “The Miami Dolphins Foundation has a commitment to being off the field champions. Fins Weekend is a reflection of the Dolphins’ work in leveling the playing field, aspiring to have teamwork at work."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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