EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Alex Erickson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Former Wisconsin and Darlington High School stand out and current pro football player Alex Erickson returned to his roots last week to give back to the community where he first honed his gridiron skills.
The current Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver returned to Darlington last week to host his inaugural Football Skills Camp on the same field he starred in as a prep, spending two days working an energetic group of 223 youth athletes from grades second through eighth. He was accompanied by former Wisconsin Badger teammates and current NFL players Joe Schobert and Joel Stave.
“It’s awesome to be able to give back to the community and the youth, and at the same time support the programs I got started in, which helped to make my dreams become a reality,” said Erickson. “The support from my sponsors the Sieg Foundation, Shullsburg Auto and Athletes RX, and the amount of kids who signed up was humbling. It means everything to me to come back to the community of Darlington.”
Erickson has been busy this summer training for his second season as a wide receiver and kick returner for the Bengals. In his rookie season, the former walk-on with the Badgers made the Bengals’ 53-man roster with a strong pre-season performance, and he continued to shine on special teams for the Bengals during the regular season, finishing with a league-high 810 kick return yards and posting a second-best 27.93 yards per return average.
When he was contacted by Redbird Touchdown president Gary Blosch, who also happens to be Erickson’s future father-in-law, to see if he would speak at a football camp they were planning to hold over the summer, Erickson not only agreed to speak at the camp but told them he would run it as well and donate all the proceeds to the club, which provides support for the local youth and high school football programs. Erickson is set to marry his high school sweetheart, Kelsi, later this month.
“I think the camp was a great success,” said Blosch. “It’s pretty cool to have three NFL players on Darlington’s football field. The kids really seemed like they enjoyed it, and the players enjoyed interacting with the young kids,” Blosch remarked.
With players and coaches from Darlington high school football team helping out, camp attendees worked on drills for a variety of positions on each side of the ball. The camp held last Wednesday and Thursday was just one way he felt he could give back to the Darlington community and the surrounding area.
“It never ceases to amaze me that every time I come back to the area, it’s like my first time coming back,” said Erickson. “The reception and welcome I get, it’s like I’ve been gone for six years even though it’s maybe been six months. They want the best for me whether it’s on the football field or my life in general. That’s what it’s all about.”
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Hattie Rennert, Shullsburg volleyball/girls basketball
Rennert smashed a team-high nine kills and had four digs to lead the West in 26-24, 21–25, 25–12, 17–25, 25–18 loss in last Wednesday’s Six Rivers All-Star Volleyball match at Argyle High School. Rennert also scored four points in the West’s 57–38 victory in Friday night’s Six Rivers All-Star Girls Basketball Game Friday night at Belmont and teamed with Potosi’s Brooke McKillip, Shullsburg’s Hunter Matye and Highland’s John Ross Linscheid to help the West win the 3-point shootout, 165–129.
Joey Meyer, C, Shullsburg boys basketball
Meyer had four slam dunks and a 3-pointer on his way to a game-high 23 points to lead the West in a 121–100 loss in Friday’s Six Rivers All-Star Boys Basketball Game.
John Ross Linscheid, G, Highland boys basketball
Schildgen shared honors of the top female finisher at the recent Wisconsin State High Linscheid made four 3-pointers and scored 22 points in the West’s 121–100 loss in Friday’s Six Rivers All-Star Boys Basketball game. Earlier in the night he teamed with Shullsburg’s Hunter Mayte, Potosi’s Brooke Mckillip and Shullsburg’s Hattie Rennert to help the West win the 3-point shootout.