SIT DOWN WITH STEVE: 7 vs. 7 Flag Football Team Created to Honor Memory of Former Bayside Student Chelsey Taylor
By Steve Wilson // May 25, 2021
Taylor died from cancer in 2012
WATCH: Neally Cunningham and Richard Burrows talk with Steve Wilson in the latest edition of “Sit Down With Steve.” Cunningham and Burrows are both members of a 7 vs. 7 flag football team created to honor the name and memory of former Bayside High School student Chelsea Taylor, above, who died from cancer in 2012. They talk about Chelsey, the team, and much more in this exclusive interview.
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Team Chelsey played in their first tournament recently and captured first place, will play in next tournament June 5 and 6
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Football and friends can make for a fun combination. If you are a sports fan, you know this to be true and a local group of friends has taken this to a new level.
Turn the clock back nine years, and Chelsey Taylor was a vibrant teenager about to enter her senior year at Bayside High School in Palm Bay.
She was one of the best athletes at Bayside and was a standout on the softball field. She was so talented that she played multiple positions, and she played them well. Chelsey seemed to have everything going for her. And then, the unthinkable happened. She was diagnosed with cancer.
Chelsey battled cancer like she battled a 3-2 count; she gave it everything she had. Unfortunately, time was not on her side and she passed away in November 2012, five months after her diagnosis.
Fast-forward nine years to 2021, and the memory of Chelsey still lives, thanks to one of her very best friends, Neally Cunningham, wo created Team Chelsey, a 7 vs. 7 flag football team in the Florida Flag Football League made up of a group of friends, most of who knew Chelsey.
Team Chelsey played in their first tournament recently and captured first place. They will be playing in another tournament on June 5 and 6 in Fort Myers, Florida. After Fort Myers, they will play in the state tournament on June 26 and 27 in Palm Coast, Florida.
Cunningham, now a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army, smiles when he talks about how much fun he is having on the football field. And why not? His quarterback on Team Chelsey is the same one he had while at Bayside High – Richard Burrows.
When asked if Burrows can still throw the ball, his reply was, “He looks even better!” That is really saying something, considering that during his senior year at Bayside, Burrows threw for 2,310 yards and accounted for 34 all-purpose touchdowns.
As successful as Team Chelsey was in their first tournament, it always comes back to the team’s name. Even if you did not know Chelsey, all you need to do is talk with her friends.
Alysha Acosta, one of her best friends and a former softball teammate, said this about Chelsey, “She was an absolutely amazing person. In everything she did, she always strived for better.” She went on to say, “no matter what anyone needed, she was always there.”
Cunningham recalls Chelsey with a lot of love and respect.
“She really cared for everyone around her, and she made sure she showed it every day,” said Cunningham. “That is why so many were hurt when she passed away. She touched a lot of people and I am thankful for all the great memories she left me.”
Burrows did not actually know Chelsey as he was a little older than she was.
“The guys that he knew that hung out with her were all high-character guys,” said Burrows. “Birds of a feather flock together. I have no doubt she was a wonderful person.”
Something like this also touches the family deeply. Chelsey’s mom, Debbie Lovell, is honored that Team Chelsey was created.
Chelsey’s friends, most of who were athletes at Bayside, supported each other during the difficult teenage years.
“They also supported her through her illness. These boys, now men, considered her a sister,” said Lovell.
“Many of the players [now on the team] were her pallbearers. They carried her then, and they continue to carry her with them in their hearts.”