Sparks selected to compete in the Semper Fidelis All- American Football Bowl


Sparks and his teammates celebrating after winning the Semper Fi Bowl.

The Marine Corps recruiting command sponsored the fifth annual Semper Fidelis All-American Football Bowl on Jan. 3. Players were selected from both the east and west coast to compete for their respective teams. These teams featured some of the nation’s best football players who “bring something more to the game.” Senior Korben Sparks was one of just 49 athletes selected to play for the East Team that was to face off against the west team.

“To apply, I had to send my football film, along with my height, weight and football highlights to the coaches,” Sparks said. “I was not expecting any feedback because so many kids applied, so I was really excited when I was selected.”

Sparks served as a captain, as well as a wide receiver and defensive back, on Chantilly’s varsity football team. For this game, Sparks played as a wide receiver for the East team. The application process was lengthy, including the submission of game film as well as a phone interview with the high school coach.

“I was contacted and was asked a few questions about Korben as part of the application process,” information technology teacher and varsity football coach Mike Lalli said. “The Semper Fidelis football staff receives hundreds of applications, so it is truly an honor [for Korben to have been able] to play.”

As a member of the East team, Sparks flew out to Fullerton, Calif., on Dec. 29 to meet with the rest of the team. The teams practiced daily from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2 to prepare for their Sunday night game at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

“Our practices, which included offensive and defensive periods, as well as our stretching and conditioning, were run by Marine drill instructors, which was challenging,” Sparks said.

In addition to practices, the teams participated in community service activities and visited local attractions during their time in California. The team volunteered at a Boys and Girls Club in Carson, Calif., where they played games like football and tug-of-war with the children. The teammates were able to bond during a trip to Universal Studios, where they went on rides at the amusement park and took a tour of the studios.

Many of Sparks’ teammates are very supportive of him throughout this experience.

“This was an awesome opportunity for [Korben],” senior and football co-captain David Tammaro said. “He is a great player, and I’m sure he had a lot of fun.”

During the game, Sparks and the rest of the East squad took the lead early and never looked back, as they beat the West team 28-13. Sparks finished the game with one reception that went for 11 yards. At the end of the game, Sparks was one of two players to dump the Gatorade bucket on the head coach.  
“My favorite part of this experience was being around guys that I will have as friends for a long time,” Sparks said. “And of course, beating the West team was a great experience as well.”