The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: 36 Degrees Co-Hosts Begin FSU Ticket Drive for Tallahassee Families

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During Florida State’s 35-24 victory over Louisville two weeks ago, the program reported the lowest attendance mark since an October 1983 contest — also against Louisville.

In an effort to change that, the co-hosts of the Tallahassee podcast, 36 Degrees, have started working to raise money to take local children and parents to football games at Doak Campbell Stadium. The first group of children to receive tickets were students from Stacey’s Schmidt’s third-grade class at Buck Lake Elementary School after they wrote kindness letters to head coach Willie Taggart and the program. Danielle Kelley, co-host of 36 Degrees, said she learned of the letters from Beverly Bonasorte, the widow of former FSU great Monk Bonasorte.

“Oh my word, they were so cute,” Kelley said. “The letters were just so sweet.”

For FSU’s Oct. 26 contest against Syracuse, each child in the class will receive a ticket to the game and another to bring a parent. Through private donations, they will also be treated to food at a pregame tailgate and a small sum of money for concessions or FSU gear.

“They were being so kind without expecting anything in return,” Kelley said. “This also teaches them that kindness spreads. I grew up on that field, so I wanted kids to be able to have that experience and maybe raise a generation of Seminoles. I wish everyone could have seen their faces. They lit up like Christmas.”

James Coleman, an FSU fullback from 2002 to 2005 and co-host of the podcast, said the idea had been in his mind even prior to the kindness letters. Coleman had organized a tailgate for the opener against Boise State, but the contest was moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. Coleman gave refunds for those who purchased tickets for the tailgate, but one fan, Nik Ritter, asked that money go toward taking children to a future contest instead.

“I was looking around the stadium and thought it was ridiculous,” Coleman said of the numerous empty seats during Florida State’s Sept. 21 win over Louisville. “There’s no reason for a stadium ever to be that empty.”

In addition to the recommendation from Ritter, Coleman said he was also inspired by a recent story of a 4-year-old selling lemonade to buy out head coach Willie Taggart‘s contract. With the negativity surrounding the program at the time, Coleman said he felt inclined to make a difference by doing something positive instead.

“I want to reward kids who are trying to make someone’s life a little better,” Coleman said. “People who make $5 million a year aren’t immune to criticism. I get that. Instead, I want Coach Tagg to have everything he needs to be successful.”

Being a Tallahassee native, Coleman said seeing the empty seats hits a little closer to home. A graduate of Florida High School, Coleman said he never watched an FSU game in person until he was being recruited.

“I want them to have that game experience,” Coleman said of the youth. “I hope that we can see support from the university. When society can be so negative, I think it would be a good look. I appreciate the teachers and parents allowing us to do this.

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“My mother always taught me to look out for the people that come after you,” Coleman added. “If a kid gets a smile on their face and the parents get 3 1/2 hours where they can bond and not worry about much else, that is priceless. What I want to do with the platform I have is to encourage the silent majority to be vocal. The outspoken minority sometimes skews reality. I think a lot of fans have seen positive changes in the program.”

Coleman and Kelley said they plan on continuing to buy tickets for the remainder of the home games in 2019 and perhaps beyond this season. Kelley said the duo will continue to seek deserving groups of youngsters.

“Everyone was mad after the (Virginia) game,” Kelley said. “When attendance was down, we said, ‘why don’t we go into the middle schools?’ We do plan on targeting different classes at different schools.”

To this point, Coleman said, more than $3,500 have been raised toward the cause. Those interested in donating can send money to on PayPal, $JayCole36 on Cash App or Biggamejames36 on Venmo. Coleman asks that contributors be specific in the subject line about what the money is for.

“As long as I can help and facilitate, I’ll try to keep this going,” Coleman said. “Everyone who stepped forward, I greatly appreciate. If anyone has any issue or concern about where the money is going, do not hesitate to reach out and ask me.”

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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