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SAN ANTONIO - It was a double celebration at James Madison High School in San Antonio on Wednesday morning. As a large crowd gathered in the foyer, wide receiver Nate Askew was honored as one of only 90 elite players across the country to be invited to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
However, the 6-foot-4, 213-pound receiver was not the only one honored at the school on Wednesday. Madison head coach Jim Streety was named as the head coach of the West team in the game that will be played just down the road in San Antonio's Alamodome on Jan. 9.
"It's a real honor for me to not only be Nate's coach but to be the head coach of the West team this year," said Streety. "It's a tremendous national recognition for our school. I look forward to it very much. I have a lot of respect for what the Army does, this game and the recognition it gives to all of our players."
It was Askew's day, though, and many people came out to cheer him on as he received recognition for not only his play on the field, but his character off of it as well. He was quick to give credit to many others.
"I just want to thank my mother, my grandmother and my grandfather for being so supportive of me," Askew said. "They've shown me that anything's possible. They've been here for me since Day One.
"I'd also like to thank my coach, coach Streety, and all the rest of my coaches that are here. They've given me the opportunity to do this. My teammates, I thank you all for supporting me. With you all, I couldn't do it either."
Askew is excited to play in the 10th Anniversary game that has numerous NFL and college stars counted among its alumni.
"I've watched it a lot. I remember the first time I watched it was when Vince Young played in it," he said of the game. "Ever since I was little I've wanted to play in it and now the chance is finally here.
"It's definitely an honor. I get to play with the best. That's the start of something I'll be doing for a long time, so I'm excited for it."
Having a chance to play in his hometown makes it a game of extra significance for Askew.
"It makes it a little more special that it's in San Antonio," he said. "I'm originally from California but I've become a Texas boy. It'll be fun to represent my state and my city right here. I'll have a lot of family and friends in the stands."
Streety says he realizes it is an honor for both he and Askew to be selected to participate, but says it is an even bigger privilege to be able to coach one of his own players in the contest.
"I'm not sure it gets any better than that," Streety said. "To have Nate there and be around him and all those other great players that week, I guarantee you it's going to be a week in my life that I'm very thankful for.
"To Nate, his mother, his grandparents and all his family, we are really, really proud of Nate Askew."
Askew is also excited about the opportunity to play one final game for the legendary coach.
"It's a bigger honor that my coach, coach Streety, was selected as the head coach," he said. "I'm going to get to play for him for the last time at the game. It will be the last time he'll ever be my coach again, so it's something I'm looking forward to."
Askew is committed to Texas A&M and is the second Aggie pledge to be selected to the game. He joins Allen (Texas) High offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi on the roster. He also knows that several University of Texas commitments will also be on the West squad and predicts there might be a little bit of a rivalry started during the week of the game.
"I don't know, we'll see when we get there," Askew said laughing. "I'm sure there will be a little good-natured rivalry there. I'm planning to represent Texas A&M and show everybody what's to come in College Station. I'm sure the other A&M commits are planning to do the same."
For his part, Streety is elated to see Askew have his turn in the spotlight. He says that his star player exemplifies everything for which the game stands.
"I've watched Nate evolve from a big old freshman that was immature, as all young folks are, and he has turned into the young man that you see standing over there right now," Streety said. "He's matured, he's become a leader for us and he's an excellent student as well as being a phenomenal player. He is, in my mind, the perfect example of the kind of guy that the Army would want to have in this game as an All-American."
The 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played at 1 p.m. Eastern on January 9 and aired live on NBC.