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Olpe senior Ted Skalsky was selected to play in the 49th edition of the Kansas Shrine Bowl this summer, fulfilling a goal he had set for himself.

The bowl showcases some of the best football talents in Kansas while raising money for the network of 22 Shriners hospitals. This year’s game will be held July 23 at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State University.

The Olpe three-sport athlete will be part of the East team’s 40-man roster, which also includes Kansas State-bound athlete Jacob Parrish of 6A Olathe North.

“I watched it the last couple years, and I always thought that my goal would be to not only make it to play on Saturdays after high school but to play in the Shrine Bowl,” said Skalsky. “That would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Skalsky was a key contributor to Olpe’s two state titles and was named the 2021 1A Defensive Player of the Year — an honor he received in 2020 as well. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker registered 105 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2021.

“We are very happy for Ted. He has put in a lot of hard work and dedication to become the player he is today, very deserving of this honor,” said Olpe head coach Chris Schmidt. “Ted will represent our team and community very well in the Shrine Bowl.”

Skalsky said he’s humbled by the opportunity to take the field with an exceptional group of players from all classes around the state.

“Getting to play with those players really is an honor,” he said.

He feels some of the takeaways from the Shrine Bowl experience will be the exposure to various styles or systems of play and competing against a high level of talent, adding that it should benefit him as he transitions into the collegiate ranks.

“I think just a different style of playing,” Skalsky said. “All these coaches are from different classifications, different parts of the state. They all run different stuff. They do things a little different than we do things here.”

Skalsky has narrowed his educational and fall-Saturday-football choices to Fort Hays State — his visit is this weekend — Emporia State and Washburn.

“They all have their perks and their lows,” he said. “It’s just depending really on this weekend. I’ll probably decide after that.”

Olpe has played an impactful role in Skalsky’s trajectory, creating a solid platform from which to excel.

“I think the biggest part of this program is that it’s not all about you or about someone else,” he said. “It’s about the team and about everybody doing their job, and that really pushes me to do my best even though not all the people get the spotlight. … Coach (Schmidt) has been here for a long time, and just playing for him is an honor.”

But more important than the Shrine Bowl gridiron action or the game’s outcome is the reason for the contest itself. The Kansas Shrine Bowl is a nonprofit that raises money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The significance of the event is not lost on Skalsky.

“You always see these kids in hospitals … and this really helps them … helps them fund their hospital bills,” Skalsky said. “And playing for the Shriners, who do a lot for those kids, it really means a lot to know that you’re not just playing for the team or yourself, but you’re playing for those kids.”

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