When Owen Grover took the field July 20 in the annual Shrine Bowl, it was the beginning of another of his many juggling acts when it comes to sports and his life.
Grover was also slated to start with the Beckman baseball Blazers that same night in their district final against Camanche back in Dyersville, a little over an hour away from the UNI-Dome and the bowl game.
“Back in January when he was chosen, he talked to Fred (Martin, baseball coach) and then to the coaches and the coordinator of the Shrine Bowl to see what could be worked out. They were very accommodating and allowed him to play the first half of the game, instead of alternating first and third quarters or second and fourth, as was the usual scheme,” said his mother Michelle. “At the end of the half, he ran to where the cars were parked and hopped in with Judd (dad) and Kyle (brother) and they took off. The other four or five cars followed them. The plan was to be able to pick him up, if they were stopped, and continue the trip to Dyersville to get him back in time for warm-ups before the baseball game.
“Owen changed clothes in the car, we had his baseball uniform hanging there, and we had brought his other gear to the car already from the parade and dorm. He had all of his gear there all week because he wanted to get in some hitting time if the hours allowed. He got to Dyersville about 6:35, in time to warm-up with the team and all was well.”
Grover played most of the first half and notched “a couple of tackles. I also hit a guy when he was catching the ball and made him drop it and our guys picked it up,” he said.
Fresh from a Canadian fishing trip with his dad, some teammates and their dads, Owen added, “The whole week was a great experience. Not only was it awesome to be able to play the game again with other high school guys, but we also played it for something bigger than we were. To be able to use our efforts and talents for those kids, that was special. And to spend the whole week with other guys you maybe only kind of knew and then to be able to make them your really good friends, that was something to remember.”
“He made some great friends with the whole experience,” added Michelle. “They even got together last week for a couple of days at Okoboji, Owen, Jordan Bries (West Delaware), Preston Rochford (Edgewood-Colesburg) and Trey Daugherty (Bellevue). They had known of each other through all the years but playing together and living together cemented good friendships that will last many years.”
Grover amassed some stellar stats this past football season, leading his team on both sides of the ball. He rushed 212 times for 1,186 yards, a 5.6 yards per carry average, and scored 13 touchdowns. He also led the team in tackles with 76.5, 55 solo, 13.5 tackles for loss and three solo sacks. He handled punt duties for the Blazers as well, kicking 21 times for 734 yards, an average of 35/punt. His longest was 61 yards.
Thirty years ago, almost to the day, Owen’s dad Judd also played in the Shrine Bowl game. Owen also won another honor at the event. During the banquet for the players the night before the game, he was named the recipient of the Monsignor Tolan Leadership Award, given to only one of the 92 players there, in recognition of the player’s leadership and contributions to his school and community.