From the outside, Norma Jean's Sports Bar & Grill, located at Lemon Bay Plaza in Englewood, looks the same as before — same storefront, outside tables and ample parking spaces. Once inside, however, area residents and regulars are noticing a number of important changes. Dozens of new, shiny plaques and team pictures have been displayed at front and back entrance walls. Of course, one would expect to see trophies, pennants and team pictures in a sports bar, but these are different. These awards recognize local elementary, middle and high school athletes, not national or college teams.
"It's important for me to honor local youngsters," explained Emerson King, the new owner of Norma Jean's. King, a father of three, sponsors weekly spirit nights where teams gather after Pop Warner, football, or soccer practices. A portion of the evening's proceeds go directly to a specific team's athletic program, and on Thursday afternoons, King makes it a point to personally deliver a weekly award honoring a player of the week to a particular school — his very own MVP program.
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