Jesse Zwiener, a 2013 graduate of Boone Central High School, was one of the young football athletes to take part in the 2013 Down Under Sports Tournaments and Games in Australia.
Helped by contributions and donations from local businesses and individuals, Zwiener spent July 6-17 in Australia and Hawaii with participants from all around the United States.
The Down Under Bowl was established to promote “gridiron” (American football) to the people of New Zealand and Australia. The Bowl is in its 24th year of competition, with teams from the United States, Australia and New Zealand invited to participate.
Teams were divided into brackets of four, with each team playing two games. The first game was for seeding purposes and determined whether a team’s second game was a consolation or championship game. Games were played according to High School Federation Rules. Game time consisted of four 12-minute quarters, with a minute between quarters. Officials were from the United States and Australia.
The athletes brought their own pads and helmet. Several practices were held in Australia prior to each Down Under Bowl game.
Zwiener played tight end for the United States West Central Conference team. West Central defeated a United States team in its first-round (seeding) game, then defeated an Australian All-Star team in the final Down Under Bowl contest.
The U.S. West Central squad was comprised of 35 players from Nebraska, Alaska, California, North Dakota, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah.
Along with participating in the games, the athletes were invited to speak to school-age children at their schools since it is winter in Australia and school is in session.
Representing their schools, communities, states and country, Jesse and his West Central Conference teammates received 1st place gold medals for their victory at the Down Under Sports Award Dinner.
Zwiener and the other athletes were also able to enjoy the new experiences of the Australian Gold Coast and the beaches of Hawaii. They learned to surf; went to the zoo and saw dingoes, huge crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas, and many birds; walked on the beaches; went deep-sea fishing; attended the Sidney Opera House and went to Sidney’s Harbour Bridge.
The group’s final stop of the trip was Hawaii, where Jesse and his mates went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, saw the Pearl Harbor Memorial and went to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Following the stop in Hawaii, Jesse returned to Nebraska, concluding an unforgettable experience.
“My trip to the land ‘Down Under’ was very educational and exciting,” said an appreciative Zwiener. “I was able to take part in this memorable experience because of the wonderful support of the Albion community and my family!”
Jesse is the son of Joseph and Jeanette Zwiener of Albion.