Don’t try to sell that idea to the coaches, players, or hundreds of Kansas Shriners that are gearing up for the 39th Annual Shrine Bowl All-Star game that will be played at Welch Field at Emporia State University on July 28th.
Hill says he’s not sure what’s more motivating, the pressure to keep the streak alive, or the desire of the East to win for the first time since 2005. Hill obviously is very aware of what the streak means to many people. “When I found out I was going to be this year’s head coach, I told coach Wheeler (Rick Wheeler, Wichita Heights, the 2011 West Head Coach) ‘Thanks, I appreciate it’ now that the torch has been passed to me.” The West won last year’s game 30-7 at Hays.
Hill will not only welcome 34 of the West’s top players to camp on July 20th, he’ll also welcome what could arguably be called an all-star staff of coaches. One coach from each Kansas high school football classifications is selected as an assistant coach for each Shrine Bowl game, and this year’s staff includes two coaches whose teams won state titles in 2011, and another who earned a runner-up trophy. The West staff includes Brandon Clark, Derby (6A), Ryan Cornelsen, Hays (5A), Greg Slade, Rose Hill (4A), Matt Biehler, Conway Springs (3A), and Jon Webster, LaCrosse (2-1A). Slade and Biehler each coached their teams to state championships in November. Webster’s team was the 2-1A runner up. Garden City, Derby, and Hays also earned playoffs berths last year.
Hill says coaching an all-star game is different than coaching a high school team, partly because the Shrine Bowl players were the best players on their teams, and as such played more minutes than many of their teammates. “The one thing I noticed last year (as an assistant Shrine Bowl coach)”, he says, “is how quickly these kids pick things up. They’re knowledge and the intensity of practice is really impressive to watch. We only get 13 or 14 practices, and last year we had to tweak the practices to keep their interest because they had learned everything we threw at them”.
He says the biggest challenge is getting the players to come together as a team in a short amount of time. “We need to get the kids to put their egos aside and understand that they’re all-stars but at the same time we have to play as a team when that Saturday rolls around.”
All Shrine Bowl events are produced and presented to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children [SHC]. SHC is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to the age of 18 are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay. The 39th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl will be played Saturday, July 28th, 2012, in Emporia, Kansas, at Welch Stadium on the Emporia State University campus. Kickoff will be at 7:00 pm. Tickets and additional information are available at www.kansasshrinebowl.com or by calling 800-530-5524.