Eight Forester football seniors were selected to represent Team Stars and Stripes at the Tazon de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars) in Baja, Mexico on Saturday, December 16. These eight Foresters include Trevor Bain (DB), Jake Burkard (OL), Tim Finucane (DL), Hector Mendoza (DL), R.J. Pompey (DB), Ryan Shalosky (LS/DB), Chase Slagboom (DB), and Tom Steen (OL).
The United States trained at the Mexicali, UABC, and CETYS University campuses in Tijuana in preparation for their game against the CONADEIP All Stars, a team comprised of student-athletes selected from private universities in Mexico.
A total of 15 NCAA Division III schools were represented on the 40-man roster of Team Stars & Stripes under the direction of sixth-year head coach Don DeWaard (Central College).
Each year the trip focuses not only on the special opportunity to compete against standout athletes from south of the border, but also the chance to give back and interact with the local community. This year the team visited young children from the Santa Teresita del Nino Jesus orphanage to celebrate an early Christmas. Each athlete was paired with a child from the orphanage and served as his or her “big brother” during the party. Team Stars and Stripes celebrated the holiday with organized stations that included inflatable slides, ginger bread painting, chess, and a dance floor accompanied by a DJ.
Members of the team also gave back to the community by picking up waste along the beaches and meeting with local businessmen.
When senior R.J. Pompey was asked what he will remember most from the trip, he replied, “I will definitely remember the people that I met…both the other athletes on the team and the people we interacted with in Mexico. I enjoyed learning about a new culture and getting the opportunity to compete outside of the United States and play for a country that I love.”
When game day arrived, the rivalry between Team Stars and Stripes and the CONADEIP All Stars was nothing short of thrilling. The United States led 24-0 midway through the third quarter, but after the All-Stars scored their first touchdown to close out the period, the momentum drastically changed and began to work in the All-Stars favor. In the fourth quarter the home team overturned a 16-point deficit (24-8) to win the game 28-24.
Despite the loss, back at home Lake Forest College Head Coach Jim Catanzaro had this to say about his eight graduating seniors, “These eight seniors were not just great football players, but great people. Their contributions in a variety of areas throughout our campus are immeasurable. Two members of the senior 25, presidents of three different student organizations, multi-time Academic All-MWC selections, collectively and individually they truly represent everything that we want our players to aspire to become.”
Coach Catanzaro goes on to say that he will always remember the seniors “commitment to growing their family into an unshakable foundation for future generations of Foresters to grow from. They were refined in the adversity that they overcame off the field to find the successes on the field by playing for something bigger than their individual goals.”