Bound for the USA

IN Year 10 Jesse Peters wore to school a Philadelphia Eagles top with the name of NFL team player Peters emblazoned across its back.
In class his Mirboo North Secondary College English teacher, Wes Palmer, a fan of NFL remarked on the top and his student replied that if he had a choice he would play American football.
When Wes noticed the Gippsland Gladiators advertising for players, he mentioned this to his student and the rest, as they say, is history.
Mr Palmer was worried at the time that he might have made himself unpopular with the local football team for taking away one of its players as “Jesse was a good AFL player and a good kick.”
However, Jesse’s memories of playing AFL are treasured for the wrong reason.
At 19 Jesse weighs 145 kilograms and by his own admission he has always been a big boy.
On the football field he was incessantly bullied, physically and verbally and the barbs from spectators were no less unkind.
He was 17 years old in 2012 when he went across to the Gippsland Gladiators in Morwell and loved his first training session.
That season he received the club’s President’s Award for most improved player.
At junior season’s end mid-year at Morwell, Jesse went on to play for the Croydon Rangers in Melbourne.
The Rangers finished the season undefeated and went on to thrash the Monash Warriors 34 – 0 in the Grand Final.
Jesse won the Croydon Rangers Most Valuable Player 2012 award.
In 2013 he was invited to train with the Victorian squad in Geelong which led to a round robin tournament in Canberra, games against Queensland, the A.C.T. and W.A., and three of the five most valuable player awards on offer.
All along the way Jesse has had amazing support and guidance from all quarters.
From parents, the Mirboo North Secondary College and on and off the gridiron field, it is as if things have been falling neatly into place for the teenager.
He is widely recognised as having a lot of natural talent.
Paul Manera, a major gridiron influence in Australia, has invited Jesse to attend a training camp on the Gold Coast this coming weekend at which several American gridiron coaches and players will be attending.
Christian Woodford a sport psychologist who, after coaching gridiron at Maryland University in the U.S., established the Woodford Sport Science Consulting gymnasium which Jesse attends in Moorabin, encouraged Jesse to approach colleges in the United States.
Several colleges responded and Jesse has chosen the North Dakota State College of Science with a student population of 3,500 in Wahpeton, a town roughly the size of Leongatha.
“It is going to be a big step,” says Jesse. “It is the college’s first year of going international.
“There will be other overseas students from France, Switzerland and Brazil.”
He leaves at the end of July and his mother will accompany her son for the first three weeks to help him settle himself in.
Apart from the assistance of a $500 grant from the Mirboo North Times the venture is self-funded by the Peters family.
Jesse’s mother, Michelle explains that they deferred the offer of a scholarship for the first 12 months to avoid Jesse feeling under too much pressure.
At 6’ 1” and 145kgs Jesse covers 40 yards in 5.6 seconds.
He expects the Americans will aim to have him cover the distance in 5.2 seconds.
In preparation Jesse has been working on his running mechanics at Woodfords and is routinely lifting between 120-140 kilograms.
“In America they will want me lifting over 150 kilograms.”
Jesse’s mother says that gridiron has been fantastic for him.
“The sport is very multi-cultural with participants from all cultures, races and religions.
“Everyone gets along. There is a great camaraderie.
“The ideology of the sport tolerates zero sledging or antagonism and has an on-field code of conduct based on mutual respect which is wonderful to observe.
“A player only has to slam his helmet down on the ground in disgust and he is sin binned straight away.”
As his teacher, Wes Palmer says, “The experience will be priceless.”

Big step: gridiron has been life changing and the next step will be priceless for Jesse Peters.

Big step: gridiron has been life changing and the next step will be priceless for Jesse Peters.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=11322

Posted by on Jun 24 2014. Filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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