Mississippi doctoral student to participate in Super Bowl coin toss

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Winning the prestigious Pat Tillman Scholarship put Fabersha Flynt’s life on an unexpected and remarkable trajectory. On Sunday, Feb. 12, another amazing opportunity will create memories sure to last a lifetime.

Flynt, a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), will join three other Pat Tillman scholars as honorary coin-toss captains for Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz. The group will participate in the pre-game, on-field coin toss at State Farm Stadium. Kickoff between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is set for 5:30 p.m. (CST).

Flynt, a native of Athens, Ga., was caught completely off-guard upon learning about her selection during a conference call last month with Arizona Cardinals defensive star J.J. Watt.

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“I had no idea this was going to happen,” said Flynt. “I was originally told that I would be speaking with an investor. I was completely shocked when I saw J.J. Watt pop up on the screen.” (Watch the announcement here: https://twitter.com/CBSMornings/status/1618970770658525185

In a statement, the NFL announced that “all four Tillman Scholars were selected for their dedication and vision to creating a better tomorrow, as well as the sacrifices they made for our nation.”

Created in 2004 by friends and family of former Arizona Cardinals safety turned U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, in the aftermath of his fratricide death in Afghanistan, the Tillman Scholars Program is a network of over 700 leaders united by their military service, academic passions and desire to make an impact through service.

Out of thousands of talented applicants, the foundation selected Flynt as one of the 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses for the 2021 Tillman Scholars cohort. She is the first, and only, Tillman Scholar to represent USM and one of few surviving spouses who have participated in the scholarship program to date.

Flynt notes that the wild dream of attending her first Super Bowl will be made even more special with the accompaniment of her 13-year-old son, Kaden.

“He will be my plus-one for the Super Bowl. He is very excited about that, and I feel so fortunate that the NFL is making this experience, and so much more, possible for us,” said Flynt. “Every step of this journey has been unforgettable and incredible.”

Flynt became eligible for the Pat Tillman Scholarship through an unforeseen tragedy that continues to inspire her mission as a mother, student, and educator. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Lewis, was killed in March 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The couple had been married only a year.

Through her unfathomable loss, Flynt found her purpose in helping others in higher education. She has created a scholarship in memory of her late husband and founded an educational consulting firm geared towards helping institutes of higher education foster learning environments that value diversity and inclusion for marginalized students.

Flynt currently serves as the executive director of adult education at Athens Technical College, Walton County Campus. She hopes to complete her doctorate at USM in May 2024.

“This degree is helping me learn how to serve students in my current position even better and preparing me to be a transformative leader as my career progresses,” she said. “The coursework at USM has challenged me to continue growing and learning. I am so thankful to be a Golden Eagle.”

Although she considers herself “a Georgia girl,” Flynt says her favorite NFL team is the Carolina Panthers. Flynt concedes that her nerves are becoming more jangly as the big game approaches. A packed stadium of more than 73,000 will be watching, along with millions more worldwide.

“I never thought in a million years that this would happen to me,” she said. “Thus, I am very nervous, but also excited, about the coin toss.”

No matter what happens on Sunday, Flynt has already won a coveted prize that she never takes for granted.

“I am very grateful to be among such a distinguished group of men and women,” she said. “Being a Tillman Scholar is about more than the scholarship … it’s about the relationships being formed which have aided us all in becoming the best versions or ourselves that we can be.”