Wyoming Shrine Bowl is about more than just football

Both of this year’s coaches called being a part of the Wyoming Shrine Bowl “humbling,” and it’s because the game represents more than just showcasing the state’s best talent on the gridiron.
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Shrine Bowl has been a Wyoming summer football tradition since 1974. The game showcases the state’s best players from around the state and is for graduated seniors only.

Teams are split up by North and South. There are 9 players on the South roster from Cheyenne high schools and 5 players from Casper high schools this year.

Brent Walk, the head coach of Mountain View High School during the school year, is this year’s South team head coach. It’s his second time coaching in the game.

Walk said coaching in the game is “incredible.”

“To have the opportunity to be with these young men and to be a part of such an incredible cause, I’ve been coaching now for quite a while, and this is one of the highlights of my coaching career,” said Walk during in an interview at the practice field at Kelly Walsh High School.

The game is not just about football. It also raises money for Shriner’s Hospitals.

Shriner’s treats children with orthopedic and spinal cord injuries, burns and other challenges free of charge.

North Team Head Coach Matt McFadden, who coaches Cody High School, has been a Shrine Bowl coach three times, including twice as the head coach. He said when coaches have this opportunity they “have to do it.”

“It’s much more than an All-Star game. It’s really humbling to see these kids and what they’ve been through and their attitudes,” said McFadden in an interview during practice at Dick Cheney Alumni Field. “We were complaining about sore feet and heat, and we have somebody come to talk to us with one leg.”

That person with one leg is Shriner’s Hospital Patient Ambassador Derik Smith, who dreamed of playing in the Shrine Bowl growing up in Burns before moving to Michigan. Smith is a part of the Shrine Bowl because he wants to give back to the hospital.

“All the years of surgeries and physical therapy that I had to do and the prosthetic legs, just the time and the effort that they had to put into me. I’d like to put time and effort back to them,” said Smith during an interview while watching the South’s practice at Kelly Walsh.

McFadden said being selected to the Shrine Bowl is an excellent goal for players. “It’s not just a talent thing,” said McFadden. “It’s a character thing. If you’re selected to this, just embrace it and enjoy it.”

The game will be held on Saturday at 2 P.M. at Dick Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona County High School in Casper. Player introductions will start at 1 P.M.

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