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AF Reserve kicks off inaugural Celebration Bowl

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad, Air Force Reserve Command vice commander, flips the coin prior to the kickoff of the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Dec. 19. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Baibn)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad, Air Force Reserve Command vice commander, flips the coin prior to the kickoff of the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Dec. 19. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Baibn)

A group of Air Force Reservists joint the crowd for ESPN's SportCenter on the Road. The first ever Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl drew more than 35 thousand fans to the game that was televised nationally on ABC. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A group of Air Force Reservists joint the crowd for ESPN's SportCenter on the Road. The first ever Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl drew more than 35 thousand fans to the game that was televised nationally on ABC. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the offensive MVP award to North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen  who rushed for 295 touchdowns and three touchdowns of 73 or more yards Saturday. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the offensive MVP award to North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen who rushed for 295 touchdowns and three touchdowns of 73 or more yards Saturday. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Air Force Reserve Command leadership take the field for the coin toss at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Dec 19 in Atlanta. The game featured the champions from the SWAC and MEAC in a winner take all the championship of Historicall Black Colleges and Universities. North Carolina A&T defeated Alcorn State 41-34 in a exciting game. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt Chance Babin)

Air Force Reserve Command leadership take the field for the coin toss at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Dec 19 in Atlanta. The game featured the champions from the SWAC and MEAC in a winner take all the championship of Historicall Black Colleges and Universities. North Carolina A&T defeated Alcorn State 41-34 in a exciting game. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl championship trophy to North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the  at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl championship trophy to North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A mass enlistment was held on the field just before kickoff as 12 of the newest Air Force Reservists joined the ranks at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The enlistment was conducted by Maj Gen Stayce D. Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the offensive MVP award to North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen  who rushed for 295 touchdowns and three touchdowns of 73 or more yards Saturday. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Maj Gen Richard S. Haddad hands out the offensive MVP award to North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen who rushed for 295 touchdowns and three touchdowns of 73 or more yards Saturday. North Carolina A&T won the thriller 41-34 over Alcorn State in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

A team of 60 Air Force Reservist's and family members hold the American flag during the national anthem at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Dec. 19 at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)
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A team of 60 Air Force Reservist's and family members hold the American flag during the national anthem at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Dec. 19 at the Georgia Dome. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

ATLANTA --

The North Carolina A&T Aggies defeated the Alcorn State Braves to become the first ever Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl champions at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Dec. 19.

 “You don’t get opportunities like this very often,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Haddad, Air Force Reserve Command vice commander. “The Air Force Reserve is definitely going to capitalize on the benefits of what we’ve done in this inaugural event. These are very exciting times for the Air Force, the Celebration Bowl, the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. We all benefit from this greatly.”

As a title sponsor for the bowl championship, the Air Force Reserve was able to reach a diverse audience with advertisements throughout the stadium. 
“Look around the stadium,” said Haddad. “Air Force Reserve is all over the place. It’s on the field. It’s on the scoreboard. It’s on the goal post. I’ve never heard Air Force Reserve mentioned so many times in my entire career. It’s awesome.”

With a crowd of 35,528 spectators – not including those watching from home thanks to ABC’s television coverage – it’s safe to say that the Air Force Reserve reached its target audience.

“The Air Force Reserve provides a vital service to our country,” said John Grant, Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl executive director. “We believe that [the Celebration Bowl] will provide the opportunity to bring that message to a much broader and more diverse audience to create a higher level of interest in being part of the Air Force Reserve.“

Diversity is a key facet of the recruiting strategy of the Air Force Reserve, said Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, 22nd Air Force commander.  With a more diverse Air Force being mutually beneficial for the Air Force and the country, and today gave us the opportunity to reach an intended audience.

“There are so many benefits to being the title sponsor for the inaugural Celebration Bowl,” said Harris. “The first of which is the Air Force Reserve Command’s commitment to education and STEM, of which all HBCUs have great programs. And then being able to recognize and appreciate diversity and inclusion in our military because it makes us stronger as a nation. Lastly, I believe it allows us to recognize the plethora of leaders who have come from HBCUs that have served not only in the Air Force Reserve but in other branches as well.” 

There’s anticipation for the return of next year’s Celebration Bowl. 

“I think we’re going to benefit greatly from this opportunity,” said Haddad. “I hope it becomes an enduring relationship with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.”