Tazón de Estrellas

Several California Lutheran University football players will travel to Baja Mexico this December to participate in the seventh annual Tazón de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars). The bowl game will be played at the Margarita Astiazrán de Fimbres Stadium at the CETYS University in Baja, Mexico, on Dec. 19.

Senior punter Jack McFarland and senior linebacker EJ Edinburg have been selected to represent Cal Lutheran at the bowl game. This game will be the last time these players will suit up on a football field.

The Tazón de Estrellas is an all-star game for Division III football athletes. A bowl game at the Division III level is not as common as it is at the Division I level. In contrast to Division I bowl games which are post-season games for a certain school, Division III bowl games typically are all-star games similar to the Tazón de Estrellas.

The Tazón gathers and requests athletes from both universities in America and in Mexico, forming an American and Mexican team each with a respective coaching staff.

Cal Lutheran has participated before in the Tazón de Estrellas, with players coming from the late ‘90s and 2011 season.

 

“Our players represented CLU very well and were starters in the game,” Kingsmen Head Coach Ben McEnroe said in an email interview.

In the time these players have played football with each other, a bond has formed.

However in this case, these players are being brought together with very little time to build trust and a camaraderie that can win.

“I have never met these guys before in my life. And I’m asked to go play football and play my heart out and create this connection in a week. It’s a tall order.” McFarland said.

However, this game means much more than immediately apparent.

“I believe that this game is a great extension of their college experience.  It is similar to a short-term study abroad experience with the opportunity to play football.  All of our participants are well-rounded young men, and they will grow from their experience in Mexico,” McEnroe said.

For these players, it is their last games they will play as a football athlete. For these players, it represents a chance to interact with football players of another country.

“It will be a great opportunity for them to get to know student-athletes from around the country, and they’ll get a great feel for the growing popularity of American football around the globe,” McEnroe said.

A player that plans to make an appearance is the Kingsmen punter Jack McFarland. A player who was, until recently, was unsure about even involving himself in the program. Despite this, McFarland weighed the possibilities of never being able to play an organized sport again, and seized the opportunity.
“As soon as I saw it, I jumped on it. It’s the last time I will ever play football. Even if our team doesn’t win, it is the thought and basic premise that’s attractive about this game.” McFarland said.

In addition to being able to play an international team in a sport they have been sought out to play competitively, it is an opportunity to venture out in a short study abroad and interact with the city of Baja, and not just the players of the opposing team.

Furthermore, the players will be able to connect in a deeper way in the focus on community service projects. These projects include the clearing of land for an impoverished neighborhood, creating a recreational area for children, and a youth football clinic for the youth.

In this time, Cal Lutherans Kingsmen have an opportunity to connect to people in which the sport they play is the only thing they have in common.

Connor McKinney
Staff Writer
Published December 9th, 2015