As the East Squad prepares for the 47th Annual Shrine Bowl Game on Saturday, one community is seeing their name represented for the first time since 1982. Northern Heights’ Tee Preisner became just the second Wildcat to have his name called to play in the game. Duane Parks was the first to do so. Last fall, Preisner helped lead the Wildcats to their first winning season since 2015, with a 6-4 record. Preisner played tight end and linebacker for Northern Heights. Eastern Kansas Sports had an opportunity to visit with Preisner this week to get his perspective on having the opportunity.
Eastern Kansas Sports: What was your initial reaction on being named as a participant for the Shrine Bowl?
Tee Preisner: When Coach French called me and asked if I wanted to play on the shrine bowl, I was so overwhelmed with excitement, that it gave me goosebumps.
EKS: Whom, if any, made the biggest impact on you that allowed for such opportunity?
Preisner: The people that have made the most impact on my career would be my coaches and my family. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support from my family, and I wouldn’t have the knowledge and feel for the game without my coaches.
EKS: You are the first Northern Heights player since 1982 to play in the Shrine Bowl, what does this mean for your community and football program?
Preisner: This is a huge thing for my community and the football program because it gives me a chance to show what our community is really made of, hard work, dedication, and pride.
EKS: How did you prepare to maintain or get back into shape to get ready for the Shrine Bowl?
Preisner: I’ve been working out all summer with my family and friends. I was supposed to start work outs with Emporia Sate, but then COVID-19 decided to change the plans.
EKS: You played against several of your East Squad teammates throughout your career. Has that helped establish a relationship this week?
Preisner: I think it actually helps because we all have a little since of how we play and can handle under pressure. We just have to remember we’re playing together and not on opposite sides.
EKS: You were a two-way player for Northern Heights, what side of the ball will you be playing on Saturday?
Preisner: I will be playing on the defensive side of the ball in this game.
EKS: Describe what you daily schedule has been this week?
Preisner: So far we wake up early in the morning, eat breakfast, then have our morning practice. After that we have lunch and after lunch we have our second practice for the day. Then we go back to the hotel clean up and eat dinner and have a fun activity they have planned for us.
EKS: Key takeaways from Camp?
Preisner: Some key takeaways I’ve gotten from camp are meeting new people, having fun, and learning a new spot. I played linebacker in high school but was recruited by Emporia State to play defensive end. That is where I have been playing at this week. This week has given me a vital amount of practice time and knowledge that will help me this fall with ESU.
EKS: There were some doubts that there would even be a game due to Covid. What steps are being taken this week to maintain safety of the participants?
Preisner: Some steps we’re taking are wearing mask everywhere we go, we’ve been keeping our distance as much as we possibly can, and we do temperature checks twice a day.
EKS: Was your family able to secure tickets?
Preisner: Yes, when I was talking to the secretary about the tickets, she said she has enough for my family to attend.
EKS: What perspective are you hoping to gain this week?
Preisner: I’m looking to learn more about the position I’m playing. I want to know how I’m ranked against bigger and stronger players.
EKS: Plans for your future?
Preisner: Plans for my future are to play football at Emporia State University. I will be studying Ecology to become a game warden.
EKS: Game prediction?
Preisner: I think it’ll be a close game but I think we will come out on top.
You can catch Preisner and the rest of the East squad as they square off against the West side Saturday night at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka at 7pm. Tickets are sold out. Watch or listen to the game via YouTube or WiBW 580AM.