By Brian Baxter
Libby High School student and athlete, Cayman Lee has been playing varsity football for the Libby Loggers since his freshman year. Now a senior, he has been awarded second team All Conference defensive end both this school year and last, and he continues his streak of accomplishments.
In his senior year as a Logger football player, Lee made 74 tackles and had seven sacs. His extraordinary performances did not go unnoticed by his coaches on the gridiron, at football camp, or by his teammates. Several months ago, Cayman received a formal invitation to play in the Offense-Defense All American Bowl in the Qualcomm (formerly Chargers Stadium) Football Stadium in San Diego, California. The game will be televised in February on ESPN.
The All American Bowl is an annual Offense-Defense (OD) Championship event that honors accomplishments and creates national exposure for top ranked athletes.
This year, they will host two regional events that will consist of All-Americans, College Seniors, the OD Eighty 8 Teams, State Team Championships and more. All qualifiers from the Regional Bowls will be invited to play at their National All-American Championship hosted at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on April 17-20.
The OD hand-selected rosters are the product of intense pre-season scouting from hundreds of OD coaching personnel, culminating in what has become the largest invitation-only youth and high school football event in the world. Differentiating from the pay to play tournaments out there, the All-American Bowl is the only one that can boast having trained and personally evaluated the players prior to selecting them.
The West Coast Bowl Series is scheduled for Feb. 7-10 in San Diego, Calif. It features the All-American West Coast Regional Bowl, the OD College Senior Showcase, and the West Coast State Team Regional. These National Football League hopefuls will showcase talent, skills, and motivation that comes with the next level of training and advancement.
In the letter of invitation that Cayman received from Rick Whittier, President of OD Sports that began with a congratulatory note, Whittier stated that the committee believes that Cayman has demonstrated the drive, skills, and talent to perform at the next level.
Whittier further states that these invitations are only offered to individuals that have shown that they can handle the rigorous training, are able to function as a positive team member, can hold themselves to the highest sportsmanship policies, and that have the talent, drive, and educational requirements to take the next step for national exposure.
At the end of the invitational letter to Lee, Whittier of OD Sports added a complimentary statement that Cayman Lee’s achievement reflects distinct credit upon himself, his family, and the OD organization.
To his credit, when asked who he would like to thank the most for this opportunity, Lee said, “I would like to thank my parents for always pushing me to be the best that I can in whatever I want to do. My mom and stepdad, as well as my sister, have been fully supportive of all of my dreams and goals.”
Cayman’s stepdad, Troy Douthit, manages the Country Inn in Libby and is the lead organizer for Kootenai Country Montana’s International Chainsaw Carving Contest. His mom, Sandra Faye Douthit, is a homemaker who runs her own business creating, editing, and designing websites and PowerPoint presentations. Cayman Lee’s sister, Sophie, is an accomplished musician and singer who has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and is currently attending University of Montana in Missoula studying chemistry and music.
“I also want to thank my high school football coach, Neil Fuller, for introducing the defensive end position to me. He believed in me and put me at that position to help me excel year after year,” Cayman said.
Nominations for the OD players are made anonymously, and this young man suspects one of the coaches at football camp, who also took a personal interest in helping him, may have had a hand in recommending him as well. With respect for his teammates, Cayman said, “I was never the best football player on my team eighth grade through senior year, but I always played the hardest that I could and did whatever I could to be the best football player that I can be.”
Cayman’s interests other than football, include working out, bettering himself, and hanging out with good friends and creating memories with them.
When asked what he is looking forward to most at this point, Cayman said, “I am going to take this opportunity and do the best that I can to chase a dream, to live a dream of becoming a college athlete. A dream that I have had since the first NFL game I watched when I was four years old.”
Cayman Lee and his mom are heading to Bismark, North Dakota soon to visit the University of Mary, where there is good potential they may be making him an offer to play for their team.
Some OD nominees are signed by recruiters from across the country to the top colleges for football, and some have gone on to play in the NFL.
Cayman is interested in studying exercise science and Kinesiology, or the study of the mechanics of body movements. There are costs involved with the OD Bowl that include a $655 registration fee as well as costs for airfare, accommodations, rental car, food, and more. Any local support is greatly appreciated by the family. Donations can be mailed to Sandra Faye Douthit at 513 Mineral Avenue, Libby, Montana 59923.
Zero to Five builds momentum and supported families
By Tracy McNew
Rowland poses with volunteer, Alicia Alkire at Zero to Five’s booth set up at the CARD Clinic’s pirate-themed Rally, an educational event held in November 2019 after school at Libby Elementary. Photo courtesy of Dorey Rowland.
Dorey Rowland is the Local Collaboration Coordinator for Lincoln County’s grant funded Zero to Five program. Rowland had been a Lincoln County Health Department employee since May of last year. She is the sole Zero to Five employee, and over the last eight months, she has worked with a group of community volunteers to build a meaningful program from the ground up. “What’s nice about the program,” Rowland told The Montanian, “is that our grant doesn’t dictate what we do, we get to develop that as a community based on our own unique circumstances.”
The Missoula-based Headwaters Foundation announced in December 2018 their launch of a six-year, Zero to Five initiative, focused on building resiliency for Montana’s youngest children. Headwaters Foundation partnered with the University of Montana, funding an office to administer the grants and act as a resource for participating communities. The initiative will eventually include all 16 counties that the Foundation serves, but Lincoln County was among the first six along with Mineral, Sliver Bow, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, and Missoula counties that all received $200,000. Each community’s collaborative is asked to focus on the zero to five age group and to specifically address either resilient parenting, healthy pregnancy, or school readiness.
Lincoln County volunteers who started working with the program even before Rowland was hired were considered a design team. Since then, others have joined, and the group is now unofficially referred to as a collaborative. Membership remains informal and includes participants from educational professions, healthcare, outdoor recreation, nonprofits, public libraries, social services, youth probation, mental health, private businesses, individual community members, parents, caregivers, and more. Decisions are made by consensus. Anyone with a true desire to contribute to and share in building and implementing the group’s vision is welcome. Currently, their draft vision is for all families with children from zero to five years old to feel valued, connected and empowered by community support. “When we partner with others to share our resources, our energy, and our ides, we multiply our ability to make a positive impact in the lives of children. Together, we can make a difference,” said Rowland.
Although the group and its vision continue to evolve, each step in their evolution adds value. Lincoln County’s collaborative chose to focus on resilient parenting and its efforts to date have included community participation to learn about local community needs and opportunities for the zero to five age group. They will also facilitate connections, communication, education and other efforts to bolster effectiveness of current programs and organizations with the intention of building a self-sustaining culture of community support that will continue beyond the Zero to Five grant. Zero to Five has already distributed 186 Hopa Mountain books, supplemented school supplies in collaboration with Kiwanis, CARD and Best Beginnings, hosted a collective impact event with 42 attendees, given talks to various community organizations, and participated in numerous community events such as Libby’s Trunk or Treat, Troy’s Apple Festival, and Eureka’s Resource Day. These opportunities all help to grow and strengthen the collaborative, build capacity in partners, and connect families to resource opportunities, Rowland said.
One collaborative volunteer, Stephanie Shaw, told The Montanian, I invest my time with the Zero to Five design team because of my passion for children and the idea that they are the future of our community.”
For 2020, the collaborative plans to conduct community surveys and empathy interviews to better understand how to most effectively support families. They are also conducting an ongoing review of existing data to help determine strengths and gaps related to families with children ages zero to five. They will use this information and the hands-on experience they’ve gained in our county to develop potential strategies and programs as well as a family engagement plan to ensure that families are empowered to participate in the process. The collaborative will host a kick-off event and formally move from a design team to a formal collaborative later this year. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Rowland at (406) 283- 2448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone with children from zero to five is also encouraged to participate in upcoming surveys. To learn more, or keep up with Zero to Five’s progress, follow Zero to Five Lincoln County on Facebook.
Final implementation has yet to be determined, but the Lincoln County Zero to Five group is already making a difference with their diverse partners and community participation. Shaw said, “In the short time Zero to Five has been active, I have witnessed the teamwork it has inspired within our community through events and opportunities provided to families. I am excited to see what this project will bring to our community and the opportunities it will bring for our families moving forward.”