From April 2-10, 2016, standout student-athletes from across the United States had an opportunity to visit the Czech Republic and Germany and to participate in the Global Ambassadors Bowl
For the ninth year in a row, a group of select high school seniors lined up as the Team Stars & Stripes American football squad to play against overseas opposition, the GHS (German High School) Hawks. This year, they won handily 36-0. This year’s team was led on the field by Connor Lesko ’16. Lesko threw for two TDs and ran for another as Team Stars and Stripes advanced their record to 7-2 in international competition.
Previously known as the Global Bowl, the Global Ambassadors Bowl was played on Saturday, April 9 in Hanau, a town in Hessen near Frankfurt, Germany, but the action on the gridiron was only one element of the educational visit to Europe.
The traveling American group arrived in Prague in the Czech Republic on Sunday, April 3, and took a tour of the Old Town, including the Old Town Square, the 18th-century Church of St Nicholas, the beautiful Goltz-Kinsky Palace, the medieval Charles Bridge spanning the River Vltava, and the former Jewish Ghetto.
The group visited the Terezin concentration camp, the Museum of Communism, a Nuclear Bunker and Krizik’s Fountain before traveling across the border to Germany to enjoy a Night Watchman tour of medieval Rothenberg.
The Global Bowl series has previously been hosted in Japan (2008 and 2009), France/Belgium (2010), Germany (2011), Italy (2012, 2013 and 2015) and Spain (2014). Team Stars & Stripes will be heading to Munich in 2017.
Thanks to a friend of the Lancer football program, one senior member of the Lancer football team will be selected annually to participate on Team Stars and Stripes. Other graduating seniors are encouraged to participate and parents and siblings are welcome to share in this unparalleled experience.
Parker Berzin ’14 was the first Lancer to earn a spot on the U.S. team, which defeated a talented Spanish all-star team in Barcelona. For more information, contact Gilmour Athletic Director Sean O’Toole.
Connor had this to say about the experience:
Last spring break, I was fortunate enough to travel to Prague in the Czech Republic and Hanau in Germany with Global Football to play in an all-senior All- Star game against high school kids in Europe playing American football. This experience is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was able to travel to one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world and experience life in a whole other country that I would have never been able to do without this program. The football part of the whole trip was just another added bonus. I met amazing men who, to this day, I still keep in contact with. I made lifelong friends playing a game that we all love to play - football.
All in all, this trip was an unforgettable experience. From seeing Prague Castle to just walking around the historic city, I saw and did things with a great group of guys I will never forget. I am forever grateful to Gilmour Academy for the opportunities I was given that I know aren’t available anywhere else. This trip capped off my four years of football with a huge WIN. I strongly encourage anyone interested in playing your last game of high school football surrounded by great players and great coaches in an unbelievable setting to go on this trip. I assure you, you will never forget it. Connor Lesko GA FB #1
Photos: 1) Connor Lesko '16 leading Team Stars and Stripes to Victory in Europe, 2) Lesko (far left) in Prague