Friday, January 6th, 2017
Coldwater grad mentors country's top players
By Tom Stankard
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - A Coldwater alumnus is serving as a mentor for some of the nation's best high school football players taking part in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.
As the nation's "premier high school football game," the All-American Bowl showcases nearly 100 players and 125 marching band musicians. The teens also are participating in a week-long program leading up to the bowl that focuses on leadership and teamwork. The program is led by Army soldiers and senior Army leaders.
Among those Army soldiers is Chief Warrant Officer 2 and former Coldwater football player Thomas Mescher. Mescher, who graduated from Coldwater in 1995, is spending the week talking to football players about the values he learned while playing football and then serving in the Marine Corps and the Army.
"I really enjoy football and want to instill military values - loyalty and respect - into the young athletes and shape their future," he said.
In high school, Mescher said his coach positively influenced him and helped him become the man he is today.
While on the field with his teammates, Mescher said he felt the spirit of camaraderie, a sense he later felt while serving in the military.
"I liked playing on a team and working as a team in order to be successful," he said. "Playing football, you learn how to interact with people and learn to play on a team."
Serving in the military, Mescher said he acquired core values that people "really need to be successful in life," like respecting others, integrity and loyalty.
Mescher has spent the week talking to a group of 10 football players about his experiences. He said the players seemed "very humble" to be a part of the experience.
"I was talking to one player. He's from a small town. His team wasn't great," Mescher said. "He felt blessed playing with top athletes and just being around them."
Mescher spent time on Tuesday watching practice and played catch with some of them. In the afternoon, he said they went to a local hospital for an outreach program.
"It was awesome seeing the patients' eyes light up when they saw the football players," he said.
Looking back on his experience, Mescher said it was "awesome being in Texas."
"The players have come from all over the country, not knowing each other, and became friends in a short amount of time. It is very impressive to watch," he said.
Among the roughly 100 football players competing is Montgomery High School senior offensive lineman Josh Myers. After he graduates, he said he has committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
This is Myers' first time playing in the All-American bowl.
"It's going to be the biggest crowd I've ever played (before) in by far the biggest stadium," he said. "I get to play in front of my family and friends and play as a high school athlete one last time."
"I love the natural aggression of the game," Myers added. "I like blocking people and the fact that it teaches you skills that you can't learn in school."
Over the course of the week, Myers said he enjoyed "hanging out" with soldiers, talking about perseverance and what it means to be in the military.
Come Saturday, Myers and his teammates will play in front of thousands of people at the San Antonio Alamodome. People can watch the game live on NBC. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.