Jordan Bries and Preston Rochford both agree their Shrine Bowl experience was something they will always remember. But the experience of playing in the UNI-Dome for the North squad, which lost to the South, 24-13, July 20, was different for each player.

Bries, a West Delaware graduate, played defensive end for the North team.

“I played defensive end and fullback in high school,” he said. “So it was a big change just playing one side of the ball.”

Besides a week of practice, players and coaches met children and hospital staff from the Minneapolis Shriners Hospital. Bries said the experience made him more aware of what the hospital does for their patients and how the Iowa Shrine Bowl contributes to those efforts.

“I knew the hospital was a non-profit but didn’t know just how much they did. When a child is there, they are taken care of to the full extent. That’s an awesome thing to have for them.”

Children who have been at the hospital met with players, sharing their stories. Bries said that left an impact on him.

“After hearing their stories and the impact the hospital had on them, you definitely count your blessings,” he said.

Bries will attend Upper Iowa University this fall and play football for the Peacocks.

He recognized the impact his high school coach, Doug Winkowitsch, had on him, as well as the support he’s received from Manchester. “Coach is an amazing coach. He is always willing to do anything he can for you. I’m also super thankful for the community support and can’t thank them enough.”

Bries continues a strong tradition of West Delaware players and coaches participating in the Shrine Bowl. “I’m very honored to say I’m one of those kids from West Delaware that got to play in it.”

He said, “The relationships you make through the kids and the players is life-changing. I made some lifelong friendships there. The game was a blast, but the football game was a small component of everything. It’s eye-opening knowing there is more outside of just the world that I’m in.”

For Rochford, stepping on the field at the UNI-Dome was vindication of sorts. After tearing his ACL and meniscus in Edgewood-Colesburg’s playoff win at Bishop Garrigan, Rochford was unable to play in his team’s semifinal game in the dome against AHSTW.

Technically, Rochford, who had surgery in November and was told he might be back to full strength for the game, wasn’t cleared to play in the game. However, officials found a way around that.

“I spent the whole week with the special teams just holding kicks,” he explained. Rochford, who will attend Wartburg and compete in football and track and field, got in the game twice.

“I held for a 50-yard field goal that missed and an extra point that was good.”

He said that while he did some holding his junior year at Ed-Co, he learned a lot during his week at the Shrine Bowl. “It was a different perspective. The kicker at the bowl helped me a lot, showing me how holders hold the ball in the NFL and in college”

Rochford said he enjoyed being back on the field, if even in a limited role. “It was nice being in the game and the locker room. It reminded me of why I love football so much.”

He said the visit from children and staff from the hospital left an impression on him. “Listening to the kids’ stories humbles you. We were just there to play a football game and those kids are fighting for their lives. Seeing that kind of made the whole trip. It put my knee injury into perspective.”

Rochford’s high school coach was his dad, James Rochford. “Playing for him was a great experience. I liked it. He was a football coach at practice and a dad at home.”

“The bowl experience was a lot of fun. I knew a couple of guys, but by the week’s end, I made friends with a lot of people,” he said.