The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the nation’s premier high school football game, featuring the best 90 players in a classic East vs. West match-up every January in San Antonio’s Alamodome. Last year’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl marked the 12th anniversary of the game and drew a record crowd.
And while the main focus to the world is what takes place on Saturday, the events leading up to the game is what has the most impact on the participants.
Read below to get a glance at what some of the players, Soldier Heroes, band members and other participants are saying about their experience at the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Staff Sgt. Cecilio Ponce, 101st Airborne, Fort Knox, KY: It’s a great honor to be in the presence of these outstanding young people. They’re what the Army is all about. Their dedication, working everyday towards the goals they want. Being Army Strong comes from personal motivation, being driven and doing what it takes to get the job done. The military gives you every single tool you need to succeed – you just gotta grab it and go for it. Everyday putting on this uniform, I have so much pride and I walk around tall knowing I love what I do.
Capt. Shawn Jokinen, 95th Civil Affairs: It’s nice to see the players wear the Army Colors – for a short period of time, they are on our team. I believe they are the top players, the top band members – and that’s what the Army is about, the top people especially in the special operations where we recruit and retain the top Soldiers.
Peter Kalambayi, Butler High School, Matthews, NC: It’s a great honor to be associated with anything to do with the Army. I respect anyone in the military/Armed Forces protecting our country. To be associated with them means you’re doing something right.
Jennifer Hipsley, Director of Child life Services, Methodist Children’s Hospital: It’s a very special treat for the patients to get a visit from the players. It’s awesome that the Army is doing this; we’re blessed to have them (the players). It’s definitely a positive effect on the children, it shows them that hard work and dedication really pays off.
Command Sgt. Maj. Hershel Turner, AMRC – Anytime I can share some experience with young people to make them better in life, I always love to do it. Their values line up with Army because they are committed to what they do; they are going the extra mile to make this event a great event. They are here and they are practicing to show that they have what it takes to be like us one day - great leaders. Even now, they are leaders at this young age.
Katlin Kornoely, Clarinet Player from Miss. – I think it(the experience) reflects more about how the band is a fellowship of musicians – 48 hours ago we didn’t know each other existed, but 125 kids from all across the country have come together and we’ve got half of our show pretty much perfect. Everyone wants to be here and it’s an honor we can take within ourselves in doing something we really love. It’s really great for me because I’ve never met a Soldier who has been overseas and I just wanted to express my gratitude. It’s a huge honor to meet someone who fights for us so that we can be sitting here right now.
Tune in to NBC on Saturday, January 5 at 1 p.m. for the 13th U.S. Army All-American Bowl. For you Twitter fans, follow #ArmyBowl for LIVE updates!
“Only the Strongest Wear Our Colors!”