Wunrow picked for WFCA All-Star Game
Eric Wunrow's senior season of football didn't go exactly as he had hoped. Just as he was recovering from a broken collar bone suffered early in the season he had an appendectomy that sidelined him even further.
All that missed playing time didn't matter to the members of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, who selected the 6-foot, 5-inch, 215-pound senior tight end to play for the Large School North team in the prestigious WFCA All-Star Game July 20 in Oshkosh.
Wunrow is the first player from River Falls chosen for the game since his cousin, Ben Wunrow, played in 2010.
Eric Wunrow said he's excited to see how he measures up against some of the best football players in the state.
"Plus, I get to represent River Falls on the football field one last time as a Wildcat," he said. "That's a big deal for me because my senior year didn't go how I had hoped, so having one more opportunity to play as a Wildcat will be pretty awesome."
Ben Wunrow helped the North squad to a 22-20 overtime victory over the South in the 2010 WFCA All-Star Game, and Eric said he's hoping to keep the family tradition alive.
"It's pretty special to be able to follow in his footsteps and hopefully contribute to a victory for the North team just like he did," Eric said.
Wunrow was named to the All-BRC team in both his junior and senior seasons, despite missing substantial time as a senior. In his final 13 games for the Wildcats, he compiled 558 yards and seven touchdowns on 42 receptions, while also catching two passes for two-point conversions.
He signed a national letter of intent last month to accept a football scholarship to Bemidji State University, and will be joined on the North team by fellow future Beaver Alex Burgess of Hudson.
"There are a lot of guys from the Big Rivers on the team, as well as some future teammates of mine that will be attending Bemidji," he said. "It will be different playing with them instead of against them, but they're all talented football players and I'm really looking forward to this opportunity."
Somerset coach Bruce Larson will coach the North team against the South at 5 p.m. at Titan Stadium on the campus of UW-Oshkosh.
The annual WFCA All-Star Game is a fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and players selected are asked to raise money for the cause. Last year over $300,000 was raised by the players and Wunrow hopes they can top that mark this year.
"I just wanted to make sure that people realize they're not donating to the football program, or to me just to go play football somewhere," Wunrow said. "They're donating to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. I want to make that clear because I feel a very strong obligation to fundraise as much as possible for the Children's Hospital because they're doing truly remarkable things and need all the support we can offer."
The Wisconsin Children's hospital is nationally recognized for its pediatric care excellence, and has over 70 specialty clinics that treat a variety of pediatric disorders, something Wunrow feels very strongly about.
"After having several experiences in the hospital the past few months, I want to do all that I can to give back to the people who were so kind and caring towards me," he said. "I think it's awesome that we have such an outstanding facility in our home state."
Wunrow will leave for Oshkosh July 14 to begin practice for the July 20 game and report for the first day of practice at Bemidji State Aug. 14. He said he was grateful to all his former coaches; specifically Wildcat head coach Jason Wolf for helping him through the recruiting process as well as his teammates the past four years.
"I love every one of them to death," he said. "Without them, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of this. They've given me memories and relationships that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life, and that's something special to have."
Above all, he said he's thankful for his parents, Steven and Pam, and his family for standing by him during some difficult times.
"They've always been there for me," he said. "I had a rollercoaster of a senior year health-wise, and they stood by my side through all of it. It was just as hard on them as it was on me and I'm truly blessed to have them in my life."
Wunrow said anyone wishing to donate to Wisconsin Children's Hospital can do so online at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/EricWunrow or by contacting him in person or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The online way is the most convenient and efficient way to donate," he said. "The First Giving website is something the hospital has been using for the past few years now and it allows you to make a donation online that is 100% tax deductible."
Wunrow said the Children's Hospital is asking that all donations be made by May 6.
"Once again, I just wanted to stress that the donations are going to a great cause, and every donation is greatly appreciated," he said.