Johnny Mayes founded Marketable Sports to showcase high school athletes in Northwest Florida.
The first big company takes place on Saturday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Taking advantage of an open weekend at the ballpark, Mayes and longtime high school coach David Wilson hosted the first Panhandle Football Media Day Show with 24 high school teams represented from Panama City to Pensacola. The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event is open to the public and will be broadcast on the stadium’s video board from the Hancock-Whitney Club level where a studio will be set up for the live broadcast.
“I’ve observed over the years just a tremendous amount of talent in this area,” said Mayes, a Gulf Breeze businessman. “There’s so much more talent that’s overlooked here and that’s the whole idea of what we do at Marketable Sports.
“It’s to shine the spotlight on these athletes here.”
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It is part of two events at the stadium on Saturday. The Blue Wahoos are hosting a community movie night at 7 p.m. Saturday featuring Disney’s animated movie, “The Princess and the Frog.”
For Panhandle Football Media Day, each team will have their head coach and a few players who will appear in a studio setup at the Hancock-Whitney Club level of the stadium, and local media representatives will then interview the teams after the video stream appearances live.
The broadcast will be done in partnership with Varsity Sports Network, a national service that has a Panhandle channel on its site, www.varsitysportsnet.org as well as https://marketablesports.live.
“The idea really started with these guys at Varsity Sports Network,” Mayes said. “They did two in Central Florida last year and I thought it would be great to have one here. I took over production of the Panhandle channel at Varsity Sports earlier this year. and I immediately started working on it. And honestly, we’re going to take that concept to other sports as well. I definitely have plans for basketball and expand it from there.
Mayes, a Blue Wahoos season ticket holder, immediately inquired about using the ample space the Blue Wahoos Stadium can provide to hire a venue for the inaugural football event.
“The original idea was to do it somewhere between Pensacola and Panama City, but I knew that for our first event like this, we had to make a good impression and there’s no way to get everyone to unless we’re doing something big like hosting Blue Wahoos Stadium, that’s an attraction in itself.
The first teams scheduled are the Fort Walton Beach Vikings at 9:30 a.m., followed by Crestview at 9:40 a.m. There will be 15 regional teams from this point until 1 p.m. Gulf Breeze and Lynn Haven-Mosley of Panama City are the last two teams scheduled at 3:20 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
“Tommy Jo Whiddon (head coach of Mosley) was one of the first to sign up, which says a lot for a school in Panama City to want to travel here on Saturday to make that happen,” Mayes said. “There’s so much overlap now in the lineup with our Pensacola teams going to play there and the Panama City teams coming here, so to be able to have them is really cool.”
The event will also feature the director of the Pensacola Division of the Southeastern Sports Officials Association to speak about new rule changes this season in high school football and the need for new officials to join the association. Rick Fountain, a Pensacola High graduate and dean of the UWF College of Commerce, who wrote a book about PHS football, will appear on the show to discuss the area’s prep football history.
“Having grown up here, living here since 1973, this area is deep for me,” Mayes said. “That’s why I came back here to raise my family here. I love this region. I think you’re starting to see more of these players realizing that, hey, maybe the path is a D-2 (NCAA Division II) or D-3 school, but I’m still playing football at the next level and I get an education and that’s really what it’s all about.
Mayes said Varsity Sports Network and Marketable Sports have channels available on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Bill Vilona is a retired Pensacola News Journal sports columnist and now Senior Writer for Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He can be contacted at [email protected]
WANT TO WATCH?
WHAT: panhandle football media day
WHEN: Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Wahoos Blue Stadium
FORMAT: 24 area high school teams will have interviews broadcast on the stadium’s video board and streamed live.
SATURDAY NIGHT: Community movie night, “The Princess and the Frog”.
ADMISSION: $5, doors open at 6 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m.
SEATS: Free seating in the stadium bowl and permitted seating on the Blue Wahoos stadium field. Blankets are allowed, but no food, drink or stroller will be allowed on the field.
CONCESSIONS: Will be open for movie night