Bearcats' Benson to coach in relocated Shrine Bowl
     2012-11-29      By Terry Gaston   
Scottsbluff head football coach Joe Benson has earned a special honor following the Bearcats' perfect 9-0 regular-season performance.
Benson will be an assistant coach on the North team for the 56th annual Nebraska Shrine Bowl, which will be played in Kearney for the first time on June 1.

"It will be fun," Benson said of his chance to coach on the North staff, which will prepare the team for two weeks prior to the game. "Obviously (my selection) is a reflection of the way we played this season."

Benson will join North head coach Mike Johnson of Waverly and fellow assistants Steven Gubbels of Arlington, Chris Nizzi of Creighton Prep, John Bacus of Elkhorn and Seth Styskal of Waverly.
The 2013 and 2014 Nebraska Shrine Bowl games will be played at the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field, the Shrine Bowl of Nebraska Inc. and the City of Kearney announced on Nov. 17.

“Since the formation of the Nebraska Shrine Bowl in 1958, the annual event has been held in Lincoln. We have had a group working on this project since it was announced earlier in the year that the Shrine Bowl Committee would be looking for a new home as Memorial Stadium could no longer host the football game due to new NCAA rules,” Steve O’Brien, secretary of the Shrine Bowl Executive Committee and past potentate of the Hastings-based Tehama Shriners, said in a press release.

An official bid was presented in September to the Shrine Bowl of Nebraska, Inc. by the Kearney Visitors Bureau with input from a variety of Kearney community leaders, the release said. Lincoln also presented a bid. After comparing presentations, the bid was awarded to Kearney.

The three Nebraska Shrine temples, Sesostris (Lincoln), Tangier (Omaha) and Tehama (Hastings) joined forces to create the Shrine Bowl of Nebraska, Inc. in May of 1958. This groups’ mission is to recognize the best senior football players and the efforts of great coaches in Nebraska with the goal of raising funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

"It would be neat if we had some Scottsbluff players selected as well, but that will be decided by the other coaches," Benson said.
Funds from the Kearney Visitors Bureau along with funds from TEAM Kearney will be used to help offset the costs of hosting such a prestigious event.

The main purpose of this premier athletic event is to raise revenue to support the Shriners Hospitals for Children and benefit Shrine Hospital transportation funds.

Benson said he likes the move to Kearney, if for no other reason the shorter travel distance for Panhandle football fans who want to attend the game.

"The game's accessibility, being two and a half hours closers, will make a big difference," he said.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is an international hospital system located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with specialties ranging from orthopedic, burn, and spinal care. All 22 facilities are dedicated to providing specialized research and treatment to children under the age of 18, absolutely free of charge to the patient and his/her family.

TEAM Kearney was formed to allow Kearney to continue to be a competitive sports and special events community in the regional and national markets. A group of hospitality businesses help provide funding to bring new events or expand existing events in the Kearney area.

According to the press release, this group sees a direct impact on the number of visitors that come to Kearney for sports and special events, and spend their money in local restaurants, shopping facilities and lodging properties.

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