By Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers
Courtnye Wynn, a defensive tackle from Norfolk, Va., is one of a hundred elite high school athletes that competed in the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, however, he has special ties to the game being raised by a Marine couple.
When retired Marine Shannon Messick first met Courtnye Wynn, he was a six-foot-five, lanky teenager from a rough home situation who played volleyball. Now just five years later, Wynn is a star defensive tackle playing in the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl
, played on Jan. 3, coached by his soon-to-be adoptive father, Messick.
The journey to this point hasn’t been an easy one for Wynn but every drop of sweat and sore muscle has been worth it to make his parents, both Marines, proud. Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers got a chance to sit down with the All-American and talk about his upbringing, the Semper Fidelis Bowl and his parents' influence.
How does it feel for you to have the opportunity to play in the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl?
"To me, it's an honor because I get to play with people of similar caliber and athleticism and be able to take part in one of the premier bowl games that's going to be pretty popular in the next couple of years."
What is your inspiration when you play football and as you competed in the game Jan. 3?
"My dad's career actually is what inspires me to play. I'm wearing his number right now, 56. He wore 56 all through high school. I’m wearing his number to honor him."
What did it take for you to get to this bowl?
"I went to the [Junior Rank] camp and had a great experience. They taught me to work hard. Throughout that camp I pretty much dominated because they were constantly on me because they knew what I could do. They were on me the whole camp, not letting me stop, not letting me give up. And that's pretty much what got me here today. "
How has your dad’s service of 20 years in the Marine Corps influenced your life?
"My dad's constant dedication to our country has influenced me greatly. I've never seen anyone work so diligently and so hard to keep our country free. Just so we can get up and go to a football game, they're out there every day fighting for that."
How has the experience with drill instructors and the other Marines at the practices impacted you?
"It's just an extenuation of my parents. With both my parents being in the Marine Corps, I'm kind of used to it by now."
Courtnye Wynn sprints for the kick-off at a practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Phoenix Jan. 1.
Will the fact that both your parents are Marine veterans impact the way you play in this game?
"It's definitely a kind of chip on my shoulder. I want to get after it out there to make my parents proud. Because this is actually a Marine game, sponsored by the Marine Corps, I'm just going to play my hardest and hopefully you'll see their image in me on the field."
What does the opportunity to play in the first Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, coached by your father mean to you?
"It's just a blessing. I mean, through everything I've been through, for this just to be on top of it. I've had a lot of great achievements, but I think this by far is the top."
Wynn plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall where he will continue his football career and pursue a bachelors degree in media studies.
(This story was interviewed and published by By Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers,Corps Connections