The past year had been busy enough for Newton senior Derrick Hurt, but he apparently wants to add a little bit more to his plate before he leaves the table.
After receiving word earlier in the year that he was selected for the 2013 Iowa Shrine Bowl, Hurt met with a Shriner Monday afternoon to make it official that he’ll get one more chance to represent the Cardinals on the gridiron.
“After the season ended, it kind of took me a while to get over the fact that I was done with Newton football,” Hurt said. “So just to get this last opportunity to compete for and represent Newton is just a really great thing.”
The Shrine Bowl, which benefits the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, will be entering its 41st year when it kicks off July 27 in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The game was previously held at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, but was moved this year due to NCAA considerations.
“I’ve always known about it, but coming up on my senior year I didn’t even think about it because I was busy with everything else,” Hurt said “One day I just got that letter in the mail saying I was picked for the Shrine Bowl, and it’s just a really great honor to be a part of it.”
Hurt will be the first Newton representative since Brooks Skaggs in the 2007 game. Skaggs went on to win Defensive Player of the Game for the South team, which is definitely in the realm of possibly for Hurt, who drew double teams from offensive lines all season.
“Derrick has been a great representative of our school and our programs. He’s an elite athlete at the state level, but the thing that really sets him apart is his character,” Newton coach Ed Ergenbright said. “He’s a really solid student, a great teammate and just all of the things you’d hope your own son would be.”
The rest of Hurt’s whirlwind year has included two second-place finishes in the shot put at last year’s Drake Relays and state track meet, as well as an all-state year football and, most recently, a sixth-place finish in the 285-pound weight class at the state wrestling meet.
Some of his competition at those events, such as Urbandale’s Shaquille Wells, will be joining Hurt at the Shrine Bowl this season. Although he’s been able to somewhat get to know his contemporaries through the years, Hurt said he’s looking forward to having the chance to get to know them further.
They should have plenty of time to do that, as the Shrine Bowl experience is much more than just the game. On top of the multiple events that are held months before the game, the players and cheerleaders also host camps for the children residents of the Shriner’s Hospitals. Nearly all of the game’s participants claim that was the most rewarding part of the experience.
“It’s a neat game and it’s fun to watch, but it’s what the game is about that’s the most important,” Ergenbright said. “I think Derrick is really appreciative not only to play in it, but he’ll do a great job of carrying on that tradition.”
Until the game and all of its surrounding events, however, Hurt will keep busy preparing to defend his placings at the Drake Relays and state track. The indoor track season begins in early March, so Hurt’s final months as a Cardinal could easily be as busy as the past year.
“The final thing I want to get done is a state championship in the shot put, most likely,” Hurt said. “I came so close last year, so I just want to keep on improving and hopefully I’ll get it this year.”