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Airman turns Football Frenzy into prime-time event

Hanscom AFB -- Super Bowl Sunday presents a lot of social choices for the hours leading up to and following the kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Friends and families can gather at the house with the most technologically advanced visual and audio systems producing looking-out-the-window picture quality and crystal clear yet deafening sound; people can meet at their favorite neighborhood sports bar, hopefully slapping high-fives with people they don't even know when their favorite team scores a go-ahead touchdown.

For one Hanscom security forces Airman, it's not about the score, or the location or even the team -- well it couldn't have been about his team because his Buffalo Bills needed resuscitation at 2-5 heading into their Week 8 bye this season.

For Tech. Sgt. Donald Brooks, 66th Security Forces Squadron Electronic Security Systems noncommissioned officer in charge, it's about community, camaraderie and enjoying time amongst friends.

Sergeant Brooks, in addition to his duties in the 66 SFS, is a bartender and night manager at the Minuteman Club. On top of those duties, he's taken on this season -- as personal responsibility -- the job to run the club's now-successful Football Frenzy program where people from O-6 to E-1 and infants to retirees enjoy the National Football League games on multiple flat-screen TVs.

"Previously," Sergeant Brooks said, "[the club] was lucky to get 20 people from noon until 7:30 p.m.," when he would close down for the day. This year, the average turnout for Football Frenzy Sundays was between 35 and 50.

Marika Trantanella, 66th Services Squadron Marketing and Commercial Sponsorship specialist, who promotes and participates in Football Frenzy said the club's sales since Sergeant Brooks, or Donnie, as she and other Football Frenzy regulars call him, took over have significantly increased.

"The Buffalo wings go quick," he said about his proven fan-favorite recipe.
There was one occasion this season when he was unable to whip together his famous wings and the customers could tell the difference when they tasted the replacements. Some people like the wings so much they drop by the club just to pick some up, not even staying for football, he said.

"Crowds have been good this year," Sergeant Brooks said about the turnouts.
Though popular, the wings aren't the only reason the program has attracted increasingly more people this season.

With the help of the 66 SVS and club personnel, Ms. Trantanella and Sergeant Brooks were able to get a satellite service broadcasting all the Sunday football games across the club's eight flat-screen TVs.

Since the regional games almost always favor the New England Patriots, fans of other teams, like the Buffalo, N.Y., native and life-long Bills fan Sergeant Brooks, rarely have the opportunity to watch their teams in action.

Understanding that longing, "I wanted to make sure people had a chance to watch their games," Sergeant Brooks said.

Wings and essentially an NFL command center make for a good Sunday, but there's more to the surge in popularity of Football Frenzy.

"He gives so much to this program and puts others before him," Ms. Trantanella said. "People see that and they come."

She said people have grown to depend on him as bartender, chef, prize distributor and organizer and because he keeps delivering, his fans have remained loyal.

Capt. Aaron Lasch, 950th Electronic Systems Wing contracting officer, started bringing his now-13-year-old son, Brandon, to club-sponsored Superbowl parties when he was stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. After arriving at Hanscom in July 2004 and testing Football Frenzy, the two are now regulars.

"After walking in and seeing all the different games on, all the food [such as] hot wings, hot dogs, chili and nachos," Captain Lasch said, "we were hooked."

For non-club members, and family members, like Brandon, there is a $5 regular-season entry fee. "A great Sunday afternoon of food, football, pool shooting, free prizes and great father-son time," the captain said, is "a great bargain no matter how you look at it."

Captain Lasch, Ms. Trantanella and Sergeant Brooks all agree that the atmosphere is family oriented. "I've never had to be concerned about what my son hears while we're there," Captain Lasch said, "even when the Patriots lose."

The program also helps those who live on base avoid the roadways on a major day for driving and alcohol consumption.

Unfortunately for Sergeant Brooks' following, Super Bowl XLI will be his last game. The Airman since 1985 and Football-Frenzy contributor since 2002 is permanently changing stations to Korea this summer.

"Where else can I watch my own team, eat good food, and be with my friends?" Sergeant Brooks asked citing how fun Football Frenzy has been for him this year.

If the answer to his question doesn't lie at his new base in Korea, then he'll probably build a new Football Frenzy program there -- complete, of course, with his wings.

The Super Bowl edition of Football Frenzy will begin with pre-game festivities at 4 p.m. Sunday and the buffet is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Minuteman Club.