Our Independence Bowl is built around the ‘dugout people’

CALL IT:  2022 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl chairman Rob Rubel did the honors in the pregame coin toss as Houston’s Cougars and the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns prepared to collide on a wintry Friday, Dec. 23. (Photo courtesy Independence Bowl)

Dear Editor, 

I’m not even sure if you’re technically the editor, or if the “letter to the editor” is still even a thing anymore, but I got your email address so…. 

In 2022 I was lucky enough to be chairman of the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. The experience started for me as a volunteer for the Mike and Judy McCarthy Team Announcement Party in 2012. Immediately upon getting involved with this organization I was fortunate enough to meet some awesome individuals (did I mention Mike McCarthy?) who are all committed to one common goal, the Independence Bowl. 

Let me be honest, at first, I was somewhat skeptical. Surely this was all part of the “front” put on by those that are “playing the role” of community diplomat. I can assure you; this is not the case with these people. These folks started this thing selling tickets out of their garages, putting up their homes as collateral for loans, contributing their own money, traveling all over the country to further the cause, and don’t get me started on the long-time community partners that have stuck with us over this 46-year history: the cities of Shreveport and Bossier City.

These are, as I like to call it, my “dugout people.” They are the type of folks that, together, grind it out every year to make the Independence Bowl a success. I could not have asked for a better group of people for me to associate with and I absolutely love the fact that my kids can occasionally be around these wonderful individuals. 

And let me tell you, it takes everyone. It starts with a staff that’s led by who I will call SBC’s “Mamma Bear” (executive director Missy Setters) and the team culture that exists in that office (currently temporarily relocated to the 9th floor of the American Tower, due to flood damage). My experience with the staff at the Independence Bowl is difficult for me to even put into words, so I’ll just file it under “things that make life worth livin.’” 

But it doesn’t stop there. Our foundation, Board of Directors, our committees, all volunteers, put forth an effort that has truly connected me to the community in which I live and work. 

So, when you find yourself on gameday at 4:45 a.m. for local news interviews with the temperature at 8 degrees Fahrenheit; or your director of communications gets stuck in the press box elevator for an hour; or your primary target doesn’t qualify; or…. Well, you might not realize the challenges this group gets thrown in any given year. Regardless, you’re in good hands. These are, after all, your dugout people. They got you. 

SBC has been home for the Independence Bowl since 1976. The effort it took to start the Bowl continues to be honored by the continued work being done every year as the biggest major sporting event in Northwest Louisiana. But please let me point out one more tidbit that I think is worth mentioning. The Independence Bowl continues to provide for us in the SBC something we all can be a part of that we all can also be very proud of. 

And I mean all of us. This is not an exclusive club. If I can make it to Chairman, it’s accessible. One just needs to be willing to put in the work and want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.  I needed some of that in my life. On top of that I was rewarded with a “once in a lifetime” type of experience. I am truly grateful for it, and the people I have met along the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 


Rob Rubel