To play with and against the best is the aspiration of every athlete.
To reach the individual pinnacle of competition in nearly all team sports is to be named an all-star. When the Minnesota High School All-Star football game begins June 28 at Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State University, Brainerd linebacker Mike Valesano, who was chosen for the Outstate team, will be a member of such company.
The game will mark the 29th time the Outstate will compete against the Metro to determine which region holds bragging rights. The Outstate holds a 15-13 advantage over the Metro.
The game is a showcase of the best recently graduated football players from the 2007 season. Player are chosen by the Minnesota State High School Football Coaches Association. Valesano will be one of 43 members on the Outstate team and one of only six linebackers.
Former Brainerd Warriors football captain Mike Valesano will compete in the 29th Minnesota High School All-Star football game June 28 at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
"I am really honored to be able to represent my school, team and community," Valesano said. "I am really thankful for those people who have given me the opportunities to be here and make this team. The support I have received from coaches, friends and family is amazing and I can't thank them enough."
Warrior football coach Ron Stolski said Valesano is deserving of the honor.
"Mike was a captain of a team that had a great season," said Stolski. "He was the emotional leader of the team and he was a big-play player and I think the selection committee noted that. He was our leading tackler on an outstanding defense that made it to the state semifinals. Mike brought to the Warriors a special fire that inspired a fairly young team. That is the thing in football, if you have those intangibles, that heart and fire, it allows you to be successful."
Valesano's all-star experience will begin a few days before the game. All players will participate in a camp from June 22-28 at Gustavus Adolphus University in St. Peter.
" I will be rooming with some of the Outstate players in the dorms while we are down there," said Valesano. "I really don't know too many players on the team except for maybe (Collin) Stinogel from (St. Cloud) Tech. I think I have been playing against him in football and basketball for as long as I can remember, so it will be good to have him on my side for once."
The players' ability to enjoy a glimpse of the college experience is an added bonus of the six-day camp. Many of the athletes will play college football, including Valesano at St. Thomas next fall.
'Before I decided to go there I talked to the coach and he told me the best person will play," Valesano said, "If I bring the right attitude you never know what can happen. I think my freshman year playing on special teams is a real option. It comes down to strength and speed, which are big factors I have been trying to improve on for the last four months by getting in the weight room before and after school and into this summer. I'm looking forward to getting down there this fall and seeing what happens."
The opportunity to play in next Sunday's game has motivated Valesano.
"The excitement has just built as I have been getting ready," he said. "The last month or so leading up to this has just flown by with everything that has been going on. I am ready to get down there and play football."
When asked to predict a victory for the Outstate, which won last year's game 27-14, Valesano did not miss a beat.
"I definitely predict a victory."
Spoken like a true All-Star.
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