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home : columns : columns June 24, 2016

1/29/2014 1:46:00 PM
Nielsen gets his moment in the spotlight
A DANISH TV cameraman films and interviews Windom foreign exchange student August Nielsen last week. A segment on Nielsen will run Sunday during the Danish broadcast of the Super Bowl.
A DANISH TV cameraman films and interviews Windom foreign exchange student August Nielsen last week. A segment on Nielsen will run Sunday during the Danish broadcast of the Super Bowl.

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

First-year Windom Eagle football coach Bobby Elwell got a pleasant surprise after the first day of practice last fall.
A foreign exchange student was coming to live with the Wayne and Julienne Antes family, whose son, Kyle, was a junior on the Eagle football team.
"I thought, 'Great. We've got a kicker,'" Elwell said.
It turns out August Nielsen meant a lot more to the Eagle program than the stereotypical exchange student on an American football team.
Nielsen played five years of American club football in Denmark before coming to Windom.
"Usually, a foreign exchange student that comes out for football is pigeonholed as being the kicker," Elwell said. "August told me right away that kicking was probably the one thing he wasn't comfortable doing. Hopefully, it's something that we see more of when exchange students come to the U.S."
Nielsen went on to be the Eagles' leading rusher and one of the team's leading tacklers. His teammates voted him as the team's Most Valuable Player after the end of the season.
But now, Nielsen is bringing his football talent to an audience of 1.5 million.
Last Monday, a Danish television crew was in Windom, taping a segment with Nielsen. The segment will appear during the pregame of the Danish broadcast of the Super Bowl.
"They called me a couple of weeks ago," Nielsen said. "They wanted a Danish person who was in the States playing football to do a story on prior to the Super Bowl. They asked to come here to do a little story.
"The theme is on how the sport is growing in Denmark, but they are also going to talk about concussion awareness, so they're talking to doctors about what concussions do to the brain and talking to someone who wrote a book on the effects of concussions."
Elwell noted that one of the co-workers of the video crew had known August and knew he was playing in the U.S., prompting the call to set up the shoot.
Nielsen talked to Elwell about getting some equipment and some of his teammates together for a little bit of a pick-up game for the crew to tape. School was out for a teacher inservice, but several Eagle teammates came to school to brave the elements for some football in the snow.
"Most of what they filmed was while I was playing, and they asked questions while I was in the locker room," Nielsen said. "It's pretty exciting knowing I'll be on TV in front of that big an audience."
Nielsen said that the Danish TV audience for the Super Bowl is relatively small compared to the U.S., but he noted that American football is growing in popularity in Denmark and throughout Europe.
Meanwhile, Elwell said he feels blessed to have had the chance to coach August during his first season as a head coach.
"It was a very unique situation, having a foreign exchange student with the kind of football skill set that August has," Elwell said. "In talking to some of the other coaches in the area, they all seemed to agree that he was one of the best foreign exchange students they had ever seen on a football field. It was something we weren't expecting, but it was certainly beneficial for our program to get a kid with that kind of ability and talent.
"More important was his work ethic and his willingness to do whatever it took for the team to have success. He was a real pleasure to have on our team, especially as a first-year coach. The guys really had a lot of fun having him around, and he set a great example."
Elwell noted that many schools, and Windom in particular, encourage foreign exchange students to be active in extra-curriculars to become acclimated to American culture. This fall, Windom's exchange student population was seen on the football field, the volleyball court and on stage during the fall musical.
"That's something Windom takes a lot of pride in, and we're very happy we could help August with the adjustment to the U.S. But the impact he had on our guys and our program is what we're going to take out of this experience the most," Elwell said. "Seeing August flourish socially was probably the most rewarding part of the experience. He was pretty shy and quiet the first couple of days, but he really became a big part of the kids' group and the school in general, in a pretty quick fashion. A lot of that has to do with the passion he brought to the football team.
"He got to know the guys pretty fast and they got to know him. His host family was a great fit for him. August and Kyle are kind of cut from the same cloth. They enjoy a lot of the same things and the Antes family has done an amazing job getting August involved. There wasn't a huge adjustment period for him."

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