By Matt Wiley

The “scores” are in for the eighth annual YMCA “Saturday Night Lights,” and what a landslide victory it was! With the cheering USF Sundolls welcoming guests outside and university “fight songs” playing as guests arrived, the spirit of competition was in the air at the New Tampa Family YMCA in Tampa Palms on October 13.

“(Saturday Night Lights) was fantastic this year,” says Jen Berenyi, special events coordinator for the Y. “We raised more than $22,000 through tickets, the 50/50 raffle and the silent auction. This year was slightly more intimate than last year, but that didn’t stop the enthusiasm.”

Berenyi says that only about 10 items didn’t get auctioned off and that they will be used in other events, or, possibly even auctioned off to members of the Y. She says that a few of the items were auctioned off for more than $1,000, inlcuding a year-long YMCA family membership.

As the sun disappeared below the horizon on Compton Dr., attendees began to trickle in, donning their favorite college sports teams’ respective colors and jerseys. The gym was barely recognizable, resembling a high school prom atmosphere with soft, low lighting.

The gym floor was littered with large tables for the “all-star” guests, as well as tall tables for other guests to post up and enjoy food from a number of local eateries, including Ciccio’s California Cuisine, Stonewood Grill & Tavern, Texas Roadhouse, the Meat Monkeys, Wright’s Gourmet House, Stacy’s Gluten Free Goodies and Cakes by Laiza.

Attendees had their choice of college football matchups to watch, as three different games were projected around the gym, including Louisiana State (LSU) vs. South Carolina, Florida vs. Vanderbilt and Florida State (FSU) vs. Boston College.

Lining the walls and center tables were the items up for silent auction, including sports memorabilia, featuring autographed items from Marty St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning and legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus —and even an actual third base from Tropicana Field — as well as hotel vacation packages, free Subway subs for a year, expensive bottles of wine, tickets to the Kennedy Space Center and even a 14-karat white gold emerald necklace.

Sterling Manor resident Chris Timothy enjoyed her fourth year attending the event.

“It’s a great time every year,” she says. “It’s good, casual fun, and the food choices are excellent.”

Special thanks to all of the sponsors that made the event a success, especially title-sponsor Aaron’s, which donated $5,000 to the New Tampa Y.

For more information about the New Tampa Family YMCA (16221 Compton Dr.), call 866-9622 or visit

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