Disney trip celebrates Benton Harbor football season
The Benton Harbor High School football team, led by retired college coach Elliot Uzelac, take a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida after their first district playoffs in 25 years.
Elliot Uzelac was up for the challenge when he took the job coaching the Benton Harbor High School football team.
Before his arrival, the Tigers hadn’t had a winning season since 1989.
The team’s playoff drought ended this school year when the team earned a spot in the Division 4 playoffs under the guidance of Uzelac, 74, a former college football coach. The Tigers finished their season 6-5, after winning just four games total from 2007-14 — a stretch that included back-to-back winless seasons in 2013 and 2014.
For their accomplishments, the team of 35 young men were given a surprise vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Walt Disney released footage of the team’s trip to the Magic Kingdom Park. The students appeared awed by the trip.
The Tigers and Uzelac will also be the subjects of Sunday’s SC Featured segment on ESPN SportsCenter.
“I think it’s a story about a bunch of young student athletes that transformed the community and the school just by giving a lot of effort,” Uzelac said. “About trying to change their lives, trying to do better as an athlete and student and making better social decisions.”
“Good Morning America” surprised the students with the trip in a surprise pep rally to thank Uzelac on national television.
“It’s amazing,” student athlete Trayveion Henderson said during the trip. “I wish I could put it all into words. It’s just a great experience. I never been (to Disney World) and I’m finally here having so much fun.”
Uzelac was previously head coach at Western Michigan University and assistant at Michigan and Ohio State.