Nebraska City’s Noah Kasbohm got back to the baseball diamond this week after a break in his summertime pursuit for some gridiron action.
Kasbohm played in the Shrine Bowl football game last Saturday on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
The Shrine Bowl is an annual all star game which brings together the top prep football seniors in the state of Nebraska.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity also allows football players the opportunity to meet and be inspired by the amazing patients who are helped by Shriner Hospitals.
Kasbohm’s Shrine Bowl experience began with a camp for he and his teammates on the South squad at Doane College in Crete. The North team’s headquarters for camp was Nebraska Wesleyan.
Although it had been more than a few weeks since the players were in the full swing of football, the Shrine coaches wasted no time with getting all the players back in tune with their football skills.
Kasbohm said the players had two helmet-only practices on the opening day. They followed with three practices on the second day and a practice and a scrimmage on the third day. Every other day of the week-long camp featured two practices.
Although the work load was large, Kasbohm said the coaches kept the practice times reasonable and noted that not all of the work after day one was in full pads.
“At first, it was kind of tough, but you get used to it,” said Kasbohm.
The Nebraska City football star, who played quarterback for the Pioneers, got some work in behind the center at the camp before settling into a role on defense at the safety spot.
In addition to getting ready for the game, Kasbohm said the players also got a chance to meet Shriner patients, but not in the hospital setting that players of the past had experienced.
This was the first year, Kasbohm said, that the patients were brought to the football players instead of the other way around. About 40 Shriner patients met with the players in what organizers referred to as a “hospital experience” on the campus of Nebraska Wesleyan.
Each of the patients face some form of disability, but never acted like it.
“They just ran around like normal kids. It’s basically like there was nothing wrong with them,” Kasbohm said, adding that patients’ high spirits inspired all the Shrine Bowl players.
One of the kids, Kasbohm said, was able to stump three football players with an everyday activity.
Kasbohm said the child, a girl, had lost her arm, but despite having the use of one hand, didn’t have any trouble tying her shoes.
“She had three football players come up and tie their shoes with one hand,” Kasbohm said. “She did it in two seconds and it took them 10 minutes.”
After meeting the Shriner patients, the football players got back to work at Doane and, by week’s end, were ready to play some football.
Kasbohm said game day included a breakfast, some video games and a pre-game meal prior to their trip to the stadium.
As the game got going, Kasbohm said he was taking turns with an Omaha Bryan player at the safety position.
Although he said he didn’t consider himself a “defensive guy,” the work at safety was memorable.
“It was fun to go up against some of the best receivers in the state,” said Kasbohm.
One of those top receivers was Bellevue West’s Trystn Ducker, a South Dakota State recruit.
Kasbohm said Ducker did catch a couple passes against him, but noted that he also shut down Ducker on a couple of occasions.
All in all, the Shrine Bowl experience was fun and, honestly, something Kasbohm thought he might not have a chance to do.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get an invitation or not,” he said. “When I got the letter, I was super excited. My dad might have been even more excited that me.”
With his selection to the Shrine Bowl, Kasbohm joined an elite fraternity of players from Nebraska City who had the honor of playing in the annual elite all star game.
Past Nebraska City players in the Shrine Bowl have included Michael Gogan (2005), Jason Stoll (2002), Jason Long (2000), Branden Bender (1991), Steve Pierce (1985), Chad Daffer (1982), Bret Clark and Greg Orton (1980), Randy Landwehr (1977), Budge Porter (1974), Richard Hoback (1972), Rick Budd (1967), Ron Poggemeyer and Bob Sterner (1962) and Ed Romjue (1961).
“I don’t know any of them, but I have heard about them,” Kasbohm said of the previous Shrine Bowl players from Nebraska City. “It was definitely cool to be put in that group.”
As far as the total Shrine experience, Kasbohm said it’s going to stick with him.
“Obviously the hospital experience day left a lasting impression,” said Kasbohm. “When it comes to playing the game, it just taught me that I can play with that level of kids.”
For now, it’s back to baseball with his teammates on the unbeaten Nebraska City American Legion Seniors team.
Once the summer wraps up, Kasbohm will turn his attention back to football, this time at the college level, when he starts his school experience at Southwest Minnesota State.