Westemeyer turning heads in Mexico

Augustana College offensive tackle Blaine Westemeyer is preparing to leave Mexico only three days after he arrived as a member of Team Stars & Stripes.  By the weekend he will return, clutching with him the prestigious 2009 Gagliardi Trophy awarded annually to the outstanding football player in NCAA Division III.

Westermeyer was selected from four finalists to receive the Gagliardi Trophy, which recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service and is the first offensive lineman ever to win the award.

During a hectic few days, he will depart Mexico on Wednesday in the middle of the Team Stars & Stripes preparations to face the Tec Monterrey All-Stars in the Tazon de Estrellas this weekend on the Tec de Monterrey Campus Estado de Mexico.

Westemeyer will be presented with the trophy on Thursday evening, December 17 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va., as part of the festivities leading up to the Division III National Championship game.  He will return the following day to anchor the Team Stars & Stripes offensive line on Saturday, December 19.

“Blaine is clearly the greatest player I have been associated with or coached,” said Augustana head coach Jim Barnes, who has racked up a record of 73-40 in 10 years at his alma mater.  “I have never seen a player who so clearly dominates his position.

“In addition, he is by far the most humble ‘achiever’ I have ever been associated with in sports. He goes about his business, with great success academically and athletically, quietly and without any fanfare.”

Westemeyer just finished a stellar career at Augustana and he excelled in all three areas cited in the description of the award.  He is a two-time American Football Coaches Association first team All-American, a two time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).  His ‘free’ time is spent in a variety of community involvement, most notably with Heartland Hospice.

What the players on the Team Stars & Stripes roster are saying about the Tazon de Estrellas and their experiences so far in Mexico…

LB Eric Kahl, Utica College: “I expect us to come out hard and play like we do in practice. It will be a good game.”

DB Jeff Hilliard, University of St. Thomas:  “I love it here. The hospitality in this country is great. And I love learning about a new culture.  I think the game will be a great matchup. We are here to have fun, butalso to represent our country.”

WR Orlando Webb, North Carolina Wesleyan: “The practices have been going well. But I am tired, not from the weather because I’m from North Carolina but because I run so many different routes!  Saturday’s game will be fun, but it definitely will not be a walk in the park.”