VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- On each Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the past four years, Bates football offensive coordinator Custavious Patterson has served as a head coach in the Dream Bowl in Virginia Beach, Va. It's a tradition he will continue this year, on the heels of his first season on the Bates coaching staff, and many of his fellow Bates coaches will be joining him.
The Dream Bowl features top FCS, Division II and Division III student-athletes in two all-star games each year. Founder Neil Malvone wanted to give athletes from small college football schools the opportunity to be recognized in an all-star game dedicated solely to them, and to display their skills for scouts from all professional football leagues.
"This event gives the student-athletes one more game to play in and gets the attention of scouts," said Patterson. "For me, the weekend is about marketing and education. For the student-athletes, it gives them the exposure they may not have had in front of a number of scouts, and for me as a coach, it is about learning from the players and coaches from across the country. It gets everyone in one place, for one day to learn from each other."
Joining Patterson at the game this year are defensive coordinator Brandon Potvin, defensive backs coach Tyler Cottle, defensive line coach Tino Lopes, wide receivers coach Dominique Gaston and running backs coach Garrett McLaughlin.
Malvone said he decided to host the Dream Bowl on Bowl on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, in an effort to combine football with "traditional values" of family and civic pride. Participants and their families attend a banquet with guest speakers from the world of sports and business. They meet with local high school football players and also have time for experiencing the local area.
"This is Coach Patterson's fifth year with us," said Malvone. "He is really great with the players, their families and the scouts. He brings great energy to the event, and he's more than just a coach for us. He's an integral part of the team that makes this weekend happen."
This fall was Patterson's first season as Bates' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has 15 years of coaching experience and a proven record of helping receivers and quarterbacks excel, including the past six years as an offensive assistant at Division I Wagner College. Throughout his career, Patterson has also served as a professional football liaison, and has helped over 20 of his former players at Central Connecticut State, Fordham and Wagner get drafted or sign free agent contracts with professional teams.