Orange Blossom Classic: Executive Director Kendra Bulluck's Power Play Revived the HBCU Classic with 'Vision, Patience, and Good Timing' – Yardbarker

Fathers are often told to raise their children the right way, and the kids will not depart from the foundation they’ve laid. For Orange Blossom Classic executive director Kendra Bulluck, her father’s voice recollecting those past games was the catalyst she needed to revive the legendary annual HBCU competition. 
“Just hearing my father talk about it and the days of the Marching 100, the parades, and FAMU being in town every year. I always heard about it from him,” Bulluck exclaimed. “Hearing what my dad was talking about —and then, being a mother of two boys active in sports. I asked myself, what would it take to revive this game and bring this HBCU football tradition here for our students and our student-athletes?
Bulluck began a 10-year journey to restore the Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic and place the match as a premier event for the Southwestern Athletic Conference teams from Jackson State and Florida A&M.  
Fortunately for Bulluck, her perseverance was paid off with great timing as Deion Sanders entered the picture as the Tigers’ new head coach. Also, FAMU left the MEAC to join the fray in the SWAC.
“We needed to get everybody on the same page,” Bulluck reflected. “Different administration changes through the years, we were scheduling and re-scheduling, but we something I didn’t stop, we kept moving, and 2021 kicked off a game initially planned for 2020. But, we all know what happened in 2020.”  
Yes. The Covid-19 pandemic derailed many a plan in sports but only deterred Bulluck for a moment.
Today, the Orange Blossom Classic hosted the two teams’ coaches and players at its annual press conference. Bulluck said the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau estimates the perfect economic storm for South Florida this Labor Day weekend. The financial impact forecasts over $12 million for local businesses, with $6 million going to minority-owned businesses as thousands of fans, alums, sports lovers, and HBCU students pour cash into the Miami community. 
Before Sunday’s kickoff, football fanatics will be treated to the music of Grammy Award winner Ledisi, a luncheon with Rashanna Lee, where comedian Roy Wood Jr. will emcee the event.  
Of course, Saturday night will have the world-famous FAMU Rattlers marching band square off with Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South marching band.
Bulluck mentioned Saturday’s Fan Fest “is an opportunity to come out and enjoy what we kind of transform into The Yard Experience. We will have food trucks and vendors where you can get your official Orange Blossom Classic merchandise. We have some great corporate partners setting up cool interactive activations for our fan fest participants to enjoy.”
The OBC planning committee “used 70% of minority-owned businesses to the event,” Bulluck cited. “Coming off the pandemic provided an economic infusion into those small businesses.”
Kendra Bulluck’s Orange Blossom Classic’s revival is already a success, yet, her restoration tale of the sporting ritual is legendary. You have to applaud her deligence and tireless commitment to HBCU sports. Without her vision, the OBC will still be in mothballs and may never have seen the beautiful South Florida sunshine again.
She would not predict a winner but said, “we’re excited and going to have a great time.”
The 2022 Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic will feature Jackson State, and Florida A&M will settle a year of bad blood on the turf at Hard Rock Stadium at 3 PM ET on Sunday, Sept. 3. ESPN2 will broadcast the match. 
This article first appeared on FanNation HBCU Legends and was syndicated with permission.
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