History 101, or 7on7, rather
Updated: July 6, 2016
COLLEGE STATION - Ryan Tannehill, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Dez Bryant, Robert Griffin III and so many more. Athletes that are well-known in the NFL today, all thanks to eye-catching NCAA careers. Before touching turf on college game days however, these stars credit a certain Texas tournament as a hub for showcasing their earliest talents.
The adidas Texas 7v7 Championships has proven to be a mecca for conditioning and developing adept and adroit athletes. The first 7on7 tournament was held in 1998 and originally sported 32 teams in one division. Successful seasons have passed and the league has more than tripled to 128 teams and split into two different divisions. State qualifying “pool-play” tournaments occur throughout the state and then games are followed by bracket placement. The teams that finish in the top two spots are invited to compete in the state championship.
“7on7 is a training tool to prepare our high school teams for the upcoming season,” says Founder and Executive Director, Doug Stephens.
While some changes have occurred to ensure a higher quality event, the main goal has not changed. Texas high school athletes participate in this passing league to 1) get more reps 2) work on their timing and 3) build stronger team bonds.
Don Clayton, a Board of Directors member of 13 years, says that the “passion to make the State Tournament a lifetime memory for every participant” has remained constant.
Stephens and his Board of Directors are proud of the prosperity of the league and continue to take beneficial steps to further fortify the league, including a sponsorship commitment from adidas.
“The adidas sponsorship has increased to make [the tournament] a greater experience,” says Stephens. The company provides each player their official uniform and additional adidas gear for tournament play.
The popularity and growth of the league can also be contributed to the extensive and thorough coverage by the media. Articles, interviews, stats and videos can all be easily accessed on a variety of websites. However, since the leagues inception, Lone Star Gridiron has held steady on the sidelines. In the early years while most media forums were skeptical about the worthiness of covering the tournament, Lone Star Gridiron had no such doubts.
Gridiron founder Chris Doelle remarked, "If you want an up-close view of the stars of this Fall, there is no better way to spend three days. We saw the value of the tournament from the beginning."
Clayton added, “[The State Tournament] has evolved into an event that is recognized and respected, not only in Texas, but across the country.”
The 2016 tournament will get underway July 7-9, at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.
By Karli Burghoff
Lone Star Gridiron