0 Submitted by on Sat, 09 March 2013, 12:21


Prior to departing on an outstanding educational experience along with preparing to play a game of American football against the national U19 team of France various members of American Football Worldwide’s ELITE team shared some comments on aspects of the upcoming trip.

Certainly most, if not all, of the student-athletes greatly value and were drawn to the chance to represent the United States in an international athletic contest to be played on foreign soil.  Connor Patterson (Woodrow Wilson HS, Tacoma WA) stated, “I am enjoying this opportunity because it’s a once in a lifetime chance to represent the United States in the sport I love most – football.  I’m looking forward to putting on those game day jerseys and going out there to showcase what we can do.”  Brett Gierke (Greencastle HS, Fillmore IN) put it simply, “Playing for the USA on AFW ELITE is such a privilege and an honor.”

One of the significant challenges the group of players will face is coming together as a team in less than a week’s time.  However, the attitude of the players seems to be one of embracing this as an opportunity to grow.  Brock Workman (Barrington HS, Barrington IL) commented, “This trip will let me work with and grow close to a new group of players from around the nation as we work together towards the goal of defeating our French rivals.  High school teammate Eric Dowdy (Barrington HS, Barrington IL), one of three Broncos to make the trip along with offensive tackle Mason Darrow stated, “I really look forward to bonding as a team.”

Quarterback Joe Kutil (Notre Dame Prep, Waterford MI) is anxious to get to know some other players and also sees some long-term relationships forming: “I am most looking forward to meeting my teammates and representing the United States in a sport that I love. I plan on keeping in contact with the guys on both teams (France and US) after the trip is over.”

Jeff Sinchak (Oak Harbor HS, Oak Harbor WA) also looked forward to not only making new friends in experiencing American football together, but in the unique setting that France offers, “I’m looking forward to creating relationships with my teammates from around the United States and learning about them and experiencing all the things Paris and other parts France has to offer.  Tommy Julian (Broken Bow HS, Broken Bow OK) echoed Jeff’s thoughts and added comments about one of the most historic and attractive cities in the world- “I am looking forward to being able to tour Paris.”

Lafonza Alston (Harlan Academy, Chicago IL) is excited about playing football in France but also the other aspects of the trip, “I would like to experience the life of the French, learn more about their monuments and just have a good time overall the while making new, long lasting relationships with my teammates.”

Besides the overall cultural exposure that will be afforded on this tour to France, a predictable highlight for many is the Normandy and D-Day tour stops.

Eric Dowdy spoke for many in stating: I really look forward to what I will see and experience in Normandy.   Jack Baker (Oldham County, Crestwood KY) was more specific in reflecting on one of the most dramatic sites and days in human history, “I’m mostly looking forward to seeing Normandy and Omaha Beach.  I want to see and feel the significance that it has in this world. I want to see the area and what it stands for, especially for people that died there and their relatives living today.”  Connor Patterson echoed, “I’m really looking forward to seeing the D-day beaches, US Cemetery and Peace Memorial where so many brave Americans died for the freedom I enjoy today.”

Corey Creech (Richmond HS, Richmond IN) took in all these elements and contemplated what this experience would mean beyond the trip.  “The cultural exposure of a new country, learning and communicating with my other teammates, and especially the learning opportunity from the collegiate coaches, whether it is football, college, or after college, will enhance my preparation for the future after high school.”

Erik Erwin (Belton HS, Temple TX) added, “I can’t wait to meet the rest of the guys.  It will be a great experience to come together on foreign soil to bring the game we love to France. I believe that this trip may give me some experience in adjusting to crucial situations with little time to prepare.”

Jackson Baker is taking a grand vision of the trip,“I’ve joined this trip as an opportunity for me to be a part of something bigger than me.”

For many players this trip culminating their high school athletic careers caused them to reflect on the role the game of football has had in their lives and how now has brought them to a unique trip of a lifetime.  Reflecting on his experience in high school football, Corey Creech (Richmond HS, Richmond IN) commented, “I joined this opportunity for the amazing football experience it will provide as closure to an outstanding senior year, but most of all for the connections, communication bonds, and worldwide experiences it will provide.”

Erik Erwin also spoke for a number of young men on the tour who may be participating in their last game of competitive football, “I recently decided not to play at the next level, so the opportunity to play ‘one more game’ was one I couldn’t pass up.”

Brock Workman was also thoughtful, as the game has meant a great deal in shaping the character, work ethic and teamwork qualities of these young men,

“This trip is a unique chance for me to utilize the football ability I have built over the past 10 years of my life and engage in an unforgettable international contest. This will likely mark the end of my organized football career, so this gives me the opportunity to go out with a bang.”

There is little doubt this journey will have a major impact on the lives of those on this tour especially the young men of American Football Worldwide’s ELITE football team.  The relationships forged, the historical sites seen, the cultural growth and understandings developed and countless other benefits to be experienced and realized will have meaningful impact on these tour participants.

Summing up the growing enthusiasm for the trip, Doug Phillips (Armada HS, Armada MI) stated, “My main goal and what I am looking forward to is going over and winning for our country – playing with my brothers on the field – representing the greatest country in the world is at the top of my list!”

Sounds like the boys of AFW ELITE are ready to go and ready for the trip of a lifetime.

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