HULL, Iowa (STPNS) -- From Siouxland to the Big 12?

It sounds daunting, but 2007 B-H graduate Eric Van Ginkel is the latest Nighthawk to give it a shot at the highest levels of collegiate football.

?It?s always been my dream to play Division I,? said Van Ginkel, the son of Larry and Minerva Van Ginkel of Hull.

The 6?2?, 202-pound dynamo played July 21 in the Iowa Shrine Bowl, and he hopes to use that experience as a springboard when he enrolls this fall at Iowa State University.

A chance to impress



On August 20, the first day of classes, new head coach Gene Chizik and the Cyclone football program will hold open tryouts, and Van Ginkel will be there.

?I?ve been lifting pretty hard and running quite a bit,? he said, ?so I guess I?ll just see what happens.?

Unlike high-school teammate Chase Hurtig, who was made the ISU team in 2006 as a ?preferred walk-on,? Van Ginkel is not guaranteed a cardinal-and-gold uniform. He?ll need to impress the coaches at the come-one, come-all event with his raw skills.

?They told me I?ve got to be in shape and I?ve got to work on explosiveness and quickness, but they can?t give me workouts or anything because of NCAA rules,? he said. ?They didn?t even tell me how many spots there are, and they don?t have to take anyone if they don?t like them.?

?He was a playmaker?

Cory Brandt would certainly pick Van Ginkel.

?Eric was one of our main team leaders,? the BHRV head coach said. ?He was a playmaker ? one of the best all-around players that I?ve ever coached.?

Van Ginkel started for three years, playing both offense and defense while also punting and kicking; he was among the team leaders in rushing and in tackles for each of those years.

?Eric loves to play football ? he?d do it every day if he could,? Brandt said. ?He has a knack that you can?t teach about getting to the football, on the defensive side, and he knows how to make people miss and how to run through tackles when he has the football.?

Two-a-days in the heat

On July 12, Van Ginkel arrived in Ames to practice with 91 other players from across the state for the annual Shrine Bowl. But this was no summer vacation ? with temperatures spilling into the 100s and no rain in weeks, the all-stars sweated through twice-daily practices on the baked-dry Maple-Willow-Larch intramural fields.

?It was like playing on concrete,? Van Ginkel said with a laugh. ?It was really hot ? at least we had air in our dorm room.?

But the coaches weren?t letting up, aside from allowing the players to practice in shorts rather than full pads.

?They would really yell at us and get on us,? he said. ?They wanted to win the game. They had fun, but they made us work hard.?

Providing some respite were side trips to the Twin Cities Children?s Hospital in Minneapolis and to Adventureland and an I-Cubs game in Des Moines.

?The highlight of the trip was going to the Shriners? hospital,? Van Ginkel said, adding that each player had been assigned to find sponsorships from local businesses. ?We all realized what the meaning of the game actually was ? that?s who we were raising our money for. It was good to see what we were supporting.?

More than winning or losing

After a week and a half of practicing and traveling, it was time for kickoff, with the South racking up 237 yards of offense in the second quarter alone and winning, 24-7.

At least two things will remain in Van Ginkel?s memory ? the quality of play and the size of the stadium.

?A lot of the kids down there were pretty big,? Van Ginkel said. ?It was a lot different ? you?re going up against the best athletes in the state, and every player is one of the top players. And everybody was going full speed the whole time because we were only playing on one side of the ball. In high school, I?d get tired a lot faster.?

He estimated that there were enough fans to fill the lower tier on one side of Jack Trice Field.

?It was by far the biggest field I?ve ever been on,? he said.

Van Ginkel was assigned to play the first and third quarters at outside linebacker for the North (U.S. Highway 30 is, more or less, the border for assigning players to each squad), and he was quick to point out that the South scored all its points in the second period.

?They never scored on our defense,? he said.

But of course, the real purpose of the game wasn?t in the scoreboard totals.

?Even though we lost, it was pretty fun,? Van Ginkel said. ?I met a lot of people, and we did a lot of fun stuff together.?

Other area players in the Shrine Bowl were Jason Roskam of Sioux Center, Seth Moser of West Lyon, Paul Lundgren of M-OC/FV and Jarren Wiersma of CL/G-LR.