Games showcase Columbia players

Sunday, July 8, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:25 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008
Columbia Cubs player Paul Stovall, right, gives a pep talk to Chandler Anderson during the last quarter of the Cubs’ game Friday afternoon against the CFA Bears from Centralia. The Cubs went on to defeat the Bears 7-6.

Despite the warm temperatures and that most people don’t consider the first part of July to be football season, athletes from throughout the state came to Columbia to participate in this weekend’s Show-Me State football games. The athletes were divided by school grade, ranging from fourth to eighth grade.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Christa Wilson, a parent of one of the eighth-grade Columbia Cowboys players.

Unlike other teams, who practice all year in preparation for the games, the Cowboys are made up of players the coaching staff selected about a month before the games.

“It’s very hard to get everyone together,” eighth-grade coach Fred Braselton said. “It’s a big-time commitment.”

Fourth-grade Cowboys coach Chad Henry said he has been pleased with his team’s effort.

“I can’t ask for more from them,” Henry said. “They give 100 percent all the time.”

The teams practiced four times a week, but eighth-grader Andre Washington said giving up summer nights that could be spent with friends didn’t bother him because he loves the sport. Fourth-grader Mason Wright agreed with Washington and said having great teammates doesn’t hurt either.

“The kids have a lot of fun,” Braselton said, “It’s a great way to build friendships.”

The games are usually close and competitive. Jason Wright, Mason Wright’s father, is familiar with the desire to win. He is the coach of the Hickman High School football team.

“It’s about bragging rights,” Jason Wright said.

“We’re representing Columbia,” Washington said. “We won the title last year, and we want to hold onto it this year.”

Although the games are competitive and can sometimes be difficult emotionally for the players, coaches and fans, almost everybody agrees that competing at the Show-Me State Games is a great thing to be a part of.

“It’s a tremendous honor for all of the kids,” Jason Wright said.

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