UF flag football team wins national title

The UF flag football team, known as the Gator Escort Service, celebrates during the national championship game, a 20-18 victory over a team from the University of Central Florida.

Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 8:45 p.m.

The intramural T-shirt is what most intramural sports teams fight for all year - to be able to proudly walk across campus representing your team's win at playoffs.

This was the primary goal for the Gator Escort Service flag football team. And now, that shirt opened the doors for them to win another national title for the University of Florida.

The Gator Escort Service, champions of UF's intramural men's competitive flag football league, beat the University of Central Florida's team, 20-18, at the American Collegiate Intramural Sports tournament in New Orleans.

It was held Dec. 28-31 with more than 70 seven-on-seven teams participating.

"I would have never thought we would have taken it to a different level besides playing here at UF," said Adam Langston, a fall graduate with a degree in education and behavior.

After winning in the men's competitive league, the Gator Escort Service team lost in the all-campus championship. According to John Cox, a UF journalism student who is team captain and quarterback, the team showed up cocky and didn't take the game seriously.

During a pep talk from Cox, he compared the team's loss to the Auburn-Florida upset last fall in Alabama.

"Florida lost to Auburn last year and they still won the national title," he said. "Just because we had lost that game, there was no reason that we couldn't win nationals."

And winning nationals they did, which Langston compares to graduating.

"You dream for it all your life because you are ready to finally graduate, and when you do you're like, 'What do I do now?' " he said. "Once we won, it was like we had worked so hard to finally get there and then we thought, 'What's next?' "

Because of their win at nationals, an interactive flag football magazine, FlagMag.com, contacted the Gator Escort Service and offered $1,500 for them to participate in The World Cup of Flag Football, which is held in Costa Rica from Feb. 28 to March 2.

The team is trying to find sponsors to raise more money so they can compete in The World Cup.

"It's my last hoorah here at Gainesville, so if we can get enough money then we will do it," said John Cox, a UF journalism student who is captain and quarterback of the team.

The Gator Escort Service has a record of 33-2, but according to Langston, being a team, with the mentality of it not being a "me sport" was what got them so far.

The key, according to Langston, is not taking more recognition than another player.

"Everyone plays their roll and goes into the game not to catch a ball, because they know if they don't catch a ball their position is still important and everyone plays their best."

Langston was the recipient of the Most Valuable Defensive Player award. Five of the other team members were recipients of the All-American award.

For Cox, one of the greatest memories besides winning nationals were the relationships that were formed over the years with the rest of the team and the bond that will be shared for a lifetime.

"Twenty years from now we will still talk about this," he said. "Our team and these group of guys, they are my best friends. That's what I'll take away from it."

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