Changing The Game: Rise Football

Changing the Game

Football league focuses on health and wellness

By Sharon Fletcher Jones

In 2019, Arnel Scott, an experienced physical trainer and electrician and Rosanna Feliz, a multi-talented military veteran, established The Polk County Rise, Inc.  The organization was recognized in 2020 as a 501c3 organization to serve the Central Florida community and beyond with health and wellness programs, education, and social services referrals.

With very few resources and loads of determination, the husband-and-wife team created the Rise organization for the purpose of giving Polk County residents a safe, healthy and affordable outlet through sports activities. The Rise began as a semi-pro football team, open to adult men 18 years and older. Team members include players with little experience, some who played high school or college ball, ex-offenders seeking opportunities to turn their lives around, and others seeking to take their athletic talents to higher levels while giving back to their community. The organization is currently expanding to include girls’ basketball.

Since 2019, Rise players and volunteer staff working together have made many significant contributions and accomplishments including sponsorship and participation in the Polk County Christmas Parades and Youth 5k races, contributing more than 3,500 volunteer hours toward community service and training and gameday preparation.  In addition to providing gameday footage and physical training assessments, the organization has participated in local fundraisers and community events including walks for breast cancer research, mental health awareness and Alzheimer’s research, One Blood donation drives, Rise Family Fun Day, and the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Annual Praise Luncheon.

Board, staff and volunteers have supported players and other staff in starting new businesses and furthering their education.  Additionally, the Rise have helped three of its athletes secure paid opportunities playing arena football for the Wenatchee Valley Seahawks in Washington and the Tampa Tornadoes.  The Polk County Rise continue to provide opportunities for character development, wellness practices, and community service for the coaches, players and their families and the community at large primarily through their football program.

“Playing sports helps you stay in shape and teaches you how to make the best of your time. It boosts friendships and helps build relationships between players and coaches and even the people in the stands,” says player Taize Williams.

As tryouts gear up and their regular season gets underway, the Rise are now expanding their vision to become a one-stop resource for health and wellness for Polk County, the Central Florida community and counties beyond. The organization will offer mental health services, referrals for employment, housing, food, and education, along with increased support for entrepreneurs.

“Our mission is to make these vital services accessible to all who need them,” says Arnel Scott, the president.  He added, “Yeah, it’s about teamwork and winning games but it’s more about helping people win at life.”

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