Between kangaroo-spotting on the golf course, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and walking through Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's Australian zoo, there was football.
It was a dream vacation for six players and two coaches who traveled from Northwest Colorado to Australia for a two-week stay down under.
Former Steamboat Springs football coach Mark Drake and Kevin Kaminski helped lead the Colorado squad to two wins and a championship in the B group with triumphs against Texas/ Louisiana and the Dakotas in the Down Under Bowl, held June 20 and 24.
"It was an awesome experience," Drake said.
Former Steamboat players Lonny Radford, Shea Hurley, Casey Earp and David May and former Soroco players Kory Babcock and C.J. Remick also represented Northwest Colorado.
All six graduated in May.
"At the beginning, we went down not expecting to do real well," said May, who also won the MVP award. "We beat Texas, 12-6. After that, I think we realized we had a chance and ended up beating North Dakota and South Dakota, 27-20."
It was the first championship for Colorado in 12 years, Remick said.
Traditionally, teams are forced to run the ball on offense because they are essentially All-Star squads that don't have much time to practice or prepare. But Colorado was able to air it out with the wide-open Steamboat offense that helped the Sailors advance to the semifinal round of last fall's playoffs.
Of May's five touchdown passes in the two games, three went to former teammates, including a 60-yard pass to Radford.
"The first game, there were a lot of mistakes because we had four actual linemen that went so we had to turn one of our six fullbacks into a lineman," May said. "The second game, everyone played pretty well. It helped having the four of us running the offense with Coach Drake."
Babcock and Remick helped the Colorado squad on the other side of the ball. The two were integral in leading the Rams to the playoffs in 2003, as well. Remick said he and Babcock appreciated South Routt's efforts in helping the pair get to Australia.
"They played predominantly on defense and made great plays," Drake said of Babcock and Remick. "Kory started at (defensive back) and came up and supported on the runs. C.J. played at outside linebacker and linebacker and did a great job."
The Down Under Bowl was in the Gold Coast, and the Colorado team spent time there before heading to Sydney for a couple of days before the flight home. The team was in Australia for two weeks.
In addition to being in the opposite hemisphere, Australia and America have very different views on football, which Drake said was apparent. Rugby is Australians' first love.
"There were some places that accepted us playing football but not many," Remick said.
Remick and Drake said they would welcome the opportunity to return to Australia.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org