Posted 7/29/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
Being selected as an All-Star athlete is a great honor for high school seniors, and one Watford City High School senior was honored twice when he was selected as a football player for the Badlands Bowl and the Shrine Bowl.
Justin Flatland, son of Roger and Delores Flatland was able to continue his high school football career well into the summer through the two bowl games.
“It is an honor to be selected for a bowl game,” says Flatland. “So it was a great feeling to be selected to play in two games. I am especially fortunate because I live in a very supportive community and I felt the support of this town during both games.”
The Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl also known as the Mon-Dak Bowl puts the best of North Dakota against the best of Montana.
A committee for each state chooses the players and coaches that they think are the best from their state, and after a week of practice, the two teams go head to head in a battle that over the past 14 years has been won by Montana 12 times. Unfortunately, 2009 wasn’t one of the years that North Dakota won. But, for Flatland it was still a memorable game.
“The Badlands Bowl was the better of the two games for me, even though we didn’t win,” says Flatland. “The score was 33 to seven, with Montana winning, but I was proud to have made the only touchdown against the best players in Montana.”
Even though the Badlands Bowl was the better football game for Flatland, the Shrine Bowl which consists of an East and West team with the best players from each side of North Dakota playing against each other, offered a memorable experience that included much more than just a football game.
The Shrine game is not about winning or losing. It’s not even about having fun. The Shrine Bowl brings together talented athletes from across the state to promote awareness of the Shriners Hospital and to raise money so the hospital can continue helping children.
“The Badlands game was a more memorable game, and even though we won the Shrine game, it’s not the game I will remember. It’s the Shrine experience that will stay with me,” comments Flatland. “The Shrine game was a lot less intense because after visiting the Shriners Hospital you had the feeling that you were playing for someone else, not just yourself or your team.”
During the week the Shrine Bowl players traveled to the Minnesota Shriners Children’s Hospital. The purpose of this trip was to show the players the importance of the game.
“Seeing the kids at the Shriners Hospital made me realize that I never really have a bad day,” says Flatland. “I know now that even if I am having a bad day, I’m still lucky because there are so many people out there that are dealing with much worse things than I am.”
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a one-of-a-kind international health care system of 22 hospitals, dedicated to providing pediatric orthopedic specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs.
It takes a lot of effort to keep a hospital like the Shriners functioning, which is why community events like the North Dakota Shrine Bowl and the Shrine Circus are held each year.
“Going to the Shriners Hospital opened my eyes. It opened the whole team’s eyes,” adds Flatland. “We felt so privileged to be able to play this game for the kids at the Shriners who can’t play themselves. I feel so lucky that I still have the ability to play a game that I love when there are so many kids who will never have the chance to play at all.”
In addition to the life-changing experience Flatland had through the Shrine Bowl, he also felt privileged to play football next to and against the best players of both North Dakota and Montana before heading off to college where he will begin his football career all over at the bottom.
“It was great being able to play with the best of the best,” states Flatland. “It felt great being able to hold my own against players who will be playing at Division I schools next year. These two games gave me the chance to extend my high school career and also see where I’m at as an athlete.”
Flatland will begin his college football career this fall at Minot State University while majoring in Social Science and Physical Education.