Normally when a middle school-aged kid is flying to Orlando, Fla. it's because the family is going on a vacation to the beach or to Disneyland.
Not Zeke Rogers, a seventh grader at Waynesville Middle School.
When he booked his ticket to the sunshine state, it was for a football game he was to play in.
In July, Rogers attended an Offense-Defense Football Camp in Kansas City. This youth camp is intended to teach athletes up to and including the eighth graders how to improve their game as well as how to safely tackle and receive tackles.
The camp's high school age counterpart has seen big names such as Cam Newton and Dez Bryant participate in practices and bowl games when they were younger.
At Zeke's camp in July, some of the players were named an All-American and received an invite to play at the Youth All-American Bowl at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando.
Rogers was one of these exceptional players at his wide receiver position.
Megan Rogers, Zeke's mother, said everyone found out at a ceremony following the camps that Zeke had received the great honor.
“We had come to pick him up from the camp and during the closing ceremony of the camp they were announcing several different awards,” Megan said. “When his name was announced we were all very excited.”
Zeke had been named the Most Valuable Player for the wide receiver position, which meant he had an automatic bid to the game in Orlando. It came as a shock to him.
“He didn't think he would get chosen for that award so we were happy for him,” his mother said.
Four others from the Waynesville area were also at the camps and received performance awards, but Zeke was the only one named MVP for his position and the only player to go to Orlando according to the Rogers family.
“He was pretty excited about being able to go to Orlando,” Megan said. “But, it may not have mattered where it was. He was glad to be chosen to have that experience and go down there and play.”
It may have been called playing, but Megan said it looked anything but.
The players practiced twice a day and there was hardly any time left for sight-seeing.
Then it was time for the games.
Friday, Jan. 3 was the first “Bowl Game” and on Saturday, Jan. 4 there was a second game for Zeke to showcase his talents.
“It made us very proud to be able to see him play and see all of his hard work pay off,” Megan said. “That's what got him there.”
Page 2 of 2 - Official stats aren't kept, but the Rogers family said they knew for sure Zeke had three fumble recoveries as a cornerback and while he was on offense their rough estimations were that he had about 100-yards receiving in both games.
After the games were over, it was time to celebrate Zeke's achievements and make the trip a conventional family vacation.
“We did get to go to Universal Studios,” Megan said.