The challenges presented by COVID-19 -- and they were at every turn -- halted 16 different college football postseason bowl games. All on top of abbreviated college football seasons by some conferences and canceled campaigns by numerous others.
The Arizona Bowl is a bright, energetic experience, combining a dedicated and resourceful community, a bowl committee with tremendous vision and countless dedicated volunteers.
It truly is a celebration, a beacon of bright -- forever putting its best foot forward -- bringing together two outstanding football teams from a pair of tried and true Division I conferences.
All done amid the beauty and splendor that is southern Arizona.
As lights dimmed and gates were locked at venues across the land, Tucson’s Arizona Stadium came to life on December 31, 2020, as Ball State defeated San Jose State 34-13.
To simply play the game -- to make it safe for players, coaches, traveling parties, and the volunteers who make the event so popular -- took time, it took dedication and it took health professionals from all avenues to be their best.
It was a challenge Lukas Tvedt, PT, DPT, OCS, ITPT and clinic director at Movement for Life Physical Therapy’s Fort Lowell & Tanque Verde (Arizona) clinics, accepted with vim, with vigor and in a head-on manner.
An Arizona Bowl Committee member and volunteer since the event’s inception, Tvedt paced the Arizona Bowl’s amazing medical team. Combining his knowledge, experience and dedication with that of many of southern Arizona’s top medical professionals, Tvedt and his team went above and beyond to make the 2020 Arizona Bowl a success.
There is no Arizona Bowl without Tvedt and his team.
For his efforts and tireless dedication to the Arizona Bowl, Tvedt, was named the celebration’s “Volunteer of the Year.’’
“Lukas has been an Arizona Bowl Committee member and volunteer since we kicked off six years ago,’’ said Arizona Bowl Executive Director Kym Adair. “Each year, he is the head of our medical team and brings together some of southern Arizona’s top doctors to volunteer their time to the Arizona Bowl and to the players of our participating teams.
“The work that he does in a typical year is enough to garner him the title of the Arizona Bowl’s “Volunteer of the Year”, but Lukas went above and beyond for us in 2020 as we navigated the medical implications of COVID-19 on our game. The challenges that COVID presented in 2020 shut down 16 Bowls from even being played,’’ added Adair. “But because of Lukas’s dedication and relationships, we were able to develop COVID protocols that were acceptable to our county, state, conferences and teams. Lukas assembled a medical team that was able to evaluate and overcome each challenge that came our way and those efforts ultimately enabled us to play the Arizona Bowl successfully.’’
For Tvedt, the Arizona Bowl is a labor of love. It allows him to make a contribution to a community-based entity that lends so much to southern Arizona. It involves him with like-minded professionals and presents an opportunity to work and be around Division I athletes.
In glowing terms, he shares how the Movement for Life team in Tucson has graciously allowed him the time to get out and do this for its region and how -- save for 2020 -- it has become a New Year’s Eve staple for Movement For Life clinics to enjoy the college football gameday experience.
“I’ve been involved with the (Arizona) Bowl since inception,’’ said Tvedt, 42, who did his undergraduate work at Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo and earned his doctorate from the University of Southern California. Tvedt, it should be noted, began his career as a Physical Therapy Technician.
“I met the (bowl) chairman Ali Farhang and advisory board member Andy Brown while working with them on the Fiesta Bowl Committee. We continued our charity work in Tucson developing and running a charity middle school basketball tournament in conjunction with the late Lute Olson,’’ added Tvedt. “When the bowl moved forward, Ali asked me to join the committee shortly after, which led to my involvement as the medical services chairman. I wanted to be involved with the bowl as it's a great way for me to give back to a community that has given so much to me over the years. When I originally moved here, we had Major League Baseball Spring Training, and I saw that leave slowly along with other sports including the (San Diego) Padres’ Triple-A team. This was a way for our community to rally behind something that brought that feeling of Tucson as a destination for sports as it should be. This bowl gives back to southern Arizona and I could get behind that.’’
In college football circles across the national landscape, the Arizona Bowl is looked upon as a fixture. Experts say it offers great competition from two outstanding conferences, played in the perfect holiday setting. It is a game they believe will remain on the college landscape for years.
“The game has been great for Tucson,’’ said Tvedt. “I've seen the community slowly rally behind this game. First it seemed as if people were reluctant to get behind it for fear it was just another sports event that was going to go away. But in the last year through the pandemic, I saw/heard that the community and southern Arizona were missing the events and opportunities leading up to the game just as much as the game itself. It really is a bowl game for and by the Tucson community. We have given a substantial amount of money back to the community in charity as well as the economic impact for southern Arizona with all the fans that will eventually flock back to our city in the coming years.’’
Though the award has his name etched on its front, Tvedt has a firm grasp on what it takes to bring an event like the Arizona Bowl to life. He is keenly aware of the number of volunteers -- each playing a significant role -- who make the Arizona Bowl happen.
“They are a special group of people that are like-minded in that they all want to do what they can to grow the brand of Tucson and southern Arizona,’’ Tvedt said. “ It's a group that is well entrenched and connected with our community and gets the job done when it needs to be done. A lot of selflessness goes on behind the scenes, and people help each other to make sure that the Bowl and our community is cast in a good light for those that make the trip to Tucson, or for those watching on CBS or CBS Sports.’’
Simply making sure the Arizona Bowl was played, that athletes coaches and others involved with making the game happen were safe, was reward enough. It was, though, a challenge.
“I leaned on my medical team to help this process along and make sure we got through kickoff,’’ Tvedt said. “There is no way we get through the pre-game COVID testing and the process without the assistance of the group of medical professionals on the team. So I felt a little bad accepting the honor without them.
“Randy Cohen, and Lanny Bradford with their team of Athletic Trainers at the University of Arizona have, and continue to deal with the COVID pandemic and testing protocols for the athletes at Arizona and they were instrumental in the efforts to ensure we did everything safely and got through kickoff,’’ he added. “ It's certainly nice to be recognized, and I’m honored. However, as with everything, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes people that make the end result. From our COVID specialists, Jarrod Mosier, M.D. and Randy Cohen through the orthopaedics department at Banner Hospital that assisted us in taking care of an executive that suffered an injury while producing the event. Everyone pulled together to make this event a success in very tough circumstances. I just happened to be the person that coordinated some of it with them. ‘’
Adair, an energetic sort with a 10,000-watt personality, says Tvedt is much more than a respected medical professional making a difference.
“I have a deep respect for Lukas as a professional, but he has an even more impressive human spirit,’’ Adair said. “We are so lucky to have him as part of our team and are proud to give him this award!”
A much-deserved honor.