Bowers (88) takes to the field with his little Giant teammates and (below) takes to the classroom at Crawfordsville High.
Clearing a Path for Others
by Jim Amidon '87
Jamie Bowers' father passed away when Jamie was a seventh grader and he never got to see him play competitive football. Blessed with a caring family-his mother Jean and two brothers-the boy didn't dwell on his loss. Instead, he grew up quickly and dedicated himself to working hard in the classroom and on the playing field.
Now he's poised to make a difference in the lives of the young people he teaches in the classroom, sharing the same values instilled in him. A ninth semester teacher education student, Bowers spends his day before Wabash football practice student teaching geometry and physics at nearby Crawfordsville High School.
"I've always thought that no matter how bad off you think you are, there's always somebody else whose got it worse," says the four-year football letterman. "As a teacher, I try to help kids going through tough times and who need support from somebody at school."
Opposing linebackers and safeties probably wish Bowers had the same empathy for them as he does for young people. Bowers has been Wabash's fiercest blocker for the last three years and has taken his hybrid H-back position to three straight all-conference awards. He catches passes like a tight end, even splits out wide in some situations. When he lines up in the slot beware-Bowers has blocked for Wabash's best rushing attack in more than a decade.
"I have to say that I've certainly been in a great position these past four years," says the 6-3, 235-pounder. "I get the best of both worlds. I get to hit people when we run the ball and I get to be involved in the passing game, too. While I like catching passes statistically, I really like running the football to beat an opponent."
After a rough couple of years in junior high, Bowers' mother remarried, he hit a massive growth spurt, and he made the conscious decision to make the most of his life.
"I was 5-6 and 135 pounds as a sophomore in high school, then grew six inches and gained 40 pounds in one year. That's when I realized that this was my chance to do something good, something positive, and I decided not to waste that chance."
Bowers chose Wabash because "Wabash wins," he says, "and I wanted to go some place where I could be competitive and win."
Named honorable mention all-state as a tight end, his Wabash career got off to a rocky start. He was injured in a motorcycle accident just before training camp his freshman year. Once back, he earned a letter, but then sat out his entire sophomore season when he got mononucleosis from over exertion a month before the season started.
"I was working in concrete that summer and still lifting weights before work each day, and I guess it took its toll," he remembers. Always the optimist, Bowers didn't dwell on his loss. "It worked out well for me because I got stronger and more hungry. Not being able to play for a year made me want it just that much more."
Coach Greg Carlson calls Bowers one of the most spirited players and hardest hitters he's ever coached. "Football to me is like war," says Bowers. "I go out there on the field and can immediately tell if my opponent is for real or just hype. I can see it in their eyes and I know instantly what kind of competitor they are."
Bowers has established a reputation for his intensity and pancake blocks, but even he struggles with the on-off switch. "Turning it on and off is tough, especially when I'm with kids all day. I sometimes get frustrated with them, but I just step back, count to 10, and remember what it was like to be their age. Then we move on."
Carlson and his staff think Bowers has a legitimate shot at playing professional football next year. He's certainly got the strength, size, and desire, and best of all, he's been playing an NFL position at the college level.
"Ideally, I'd like to play some professional ball, get financially secure, then go back to teaching with the financial resources that can help my classes," Bowers adds. "I see these needs in the classroom-bad lab equipment, old computers-and I'd like to be in a position to improve the situation for my kids."
That's fairly typical Jamie Bowers-always understanding that there are others who are worse off than him, and clearing the way to make a difference in their lives.