A recent graduate of Roland-Story has been selected to play in the prestigious Iowa Shrine Bowl, and participating in the game is making one of his dreams come true.
“Ever since I was a little kid watching the Shrine Bowl, I wanted to be out there on the field,” said Calvin Bright, who will be one of the players on the North Squad. “Being invited to participate in the Shrine Bowl and represent Roland-Story is a huge honor.”
The 45th-annual Iowa Shrine Bowl All-Star Football Classic will be held at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, July 29, at 4 p.m. The game will showcase 92 talented high school football players and 60 cheer squad members from around the state.
Bright, who graduated in May, is spending the week in Cedar Falls practicing for the game and doing some other fun activities. He and his fellow Shrine Bowl players will participate in a variety of activities, some of which mix fun with purpose.
“One of the activities I am looking forward to the most is the opportunity to hang out with some kids that are being helped by the Shriner hospitals,” Bright said. “We will spend the day doing our best to help these kids have a good time.”
Bright already has experience working with kids at football camps, as he helped with them at Roland-Story.
“The Shrine Bowl is an unbelievable experience — the true definition of humbly serving others,” said Aaron Stensland, the head football coach at Roland-Story. “Their motto for years has been, ‘Strong legs run, so weak legs may walk,’ and it truly has great meaning behind it.”
Proceeds from the Iowa Shrine Bowl support The Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. The Shriner’s hospitals provide medical care for children suffering from orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate. To date, approximately $2 million dollars have been raised for the Shriners Hospitals, through the Iowa Shrine Bowl events.
‘The players used to go to the Shriners Hospital. I’m not sure if they make that trip anymore but it is a great experience for strong football players to see kids struggling to walk and move. I think it is one of the best experiences a high school football player can have and I’m so glad Roland-Story is once again represented with a player. It is such an honor.”
On the field, the 6-foot 4-inch, 240-pound Bright has racked up achievements. He was first team all-state. He led Class 2A with sacks this past season and was District 3 defensive MVP. At Roland-Story, he broke the record for sacks in a game with seven. He accepted a scholarship to play football and attend Northwest Missouri State University in the fall; that team has been national champions for the past two years.
“Calvin is a great person. He was a captain on our football team this last year and has really developed into one of Roland-Story’s all-time greats,” Stensland said. “He led the state in Class 2A in sacks this season and did a great job leading our team to the playoffs. He is really a great kid, would do anything for anyone.”
Playing in the Shrine Bowl is an opportunity for Bright to play with other top-notch players from around the state, some of whom will join him at NMSU in the fall.
“I am super excited to play with and against a group of top level football players. I have five future teammates playing in the game. Three of them will be on the South Team and one offensive lineman will be on the North Team with me,” Bright said. “A lot of the guys I met at a different all-star game where it was Iowa vs Nebraska.”
“The game is special and so is the week for the players. It is one of those once in a lifetime experiences, to play in a game with the 100 best players from Iowa in all classes and develop friendships that will last a lifetime,” Stensland said.
Stensland and his football staff plan to attend the football game at the UNI Dome and are taking a bus of R-S players to watch Bright play.
Bright said he is grateful for dedication like that from his coaches.
“Coach Stensland has been a huge help in not only making me get better as a player but he also helped out a lot with the recruiting,” he said. “All the coaches I have had at Roland-Story have helped me get where I am today, as well as training with Premier.”
Being selected for the Shrine game is a reflection of what he’s learned at Roland-Story, Bright said.
“Every year that we choose to be an athlete at Roland-Story, they make sure we know that when we make choices we are representing the school, and I always took that seriously,” he said. “Being picked for the Shrine Bowl means that now I am representing them too.”
Pre-purchased tickets are available for the game for $10 at www.iowashrinebowl.org, and are $15 at the gate on Saturday. Children under 6 get free admission. Also on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., the annual Shrine Bowl parade will be held on Main Street in Cedar Falls.