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Joel Bowman signs with Dickinson State football

Joel Bowman, a former football player and wrestler for Jamestown High School, recently committed to play football for Dickinson State University.

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Joel Bowman, a former Jamestown High School student-athlete, recently committed to play football at Dickinson State University.
Contributed / Joel Bowman

Joel Bowman's high school career hasn't exactly followed a normal-type template.

"This has been such a crazy year," Bowman said. "In my junior year, I had to make the toughest decision of my life, whether to stay in my hometown of Jamestown where I was in a comfortable varsity position in two sports, football and wrestling, or go to the private Christian school associated with my church.

"It was tough because I had developed close bonds on the football and wrestling teams here in Jamestown, but I felt an undeniable pull toward Hillcrest Academy."

Hillcrest Academy is a widely known college-preparatory school in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Bowman has one semester left with the Comets and will be trekking back to North Dakota for his college years.

Bowman recently signed to continue his academic and athletic career at Dickinson State University. Bowman will be on the Blue Hawks receivers' roster in the fall of 2022.

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"Football, and specifically, the schematics of the game, has always been a huge interest for me," Bowman said. "I grew up catching footballs on the street in front of my house. For many years the neighbors and my little brother were teammates throwing me the ball as I trained on catching. It was on the street where I fell in love with football and realized that I have an ability to catch."

Bowman finished out his prep football career with the Comets' 9-man program last fall. Prior to his arrival in Fergus Falls, the Comets had not won a football game in five years. This season, Hillcrest went 6-4 overall.

Bowman was named the Minnesota High School Hub Football leader in most yards received in all divisions of football, AAA, AA, A and 9-man. The former Jay racked 16 touchdowns on 1,396 yards.

"I prayed earnestly and took a faith leap three weeks before school began and only one week before football pre-season workouts," Bowman said. "It was scary walking away from the known into the unknown, but I believed it was what the Lord called me to do."

Bowman was named an All-Section in the sport of football. He was also was the 2021 Max Prep National High School 9-man leading receiver and player of the game six times. Bowman broke the Hillcrest Academy High School all-time receiving record.

"Even though I rarely played the position of receiver in Jamestown, I never doubted my abilities to compete and do what I love," Bowman said. "My father was a college receiver and he always believed I could go to the next level so I kept on dreaming about what was possible."

Bowman's father isn't the only one in his life who has had experience with the collegiate sports world. Bowman said his father's first cousin played football for DSU.

Since there was some family connection to the Blue Hawks, Bowman sent his highlight film to DSU as well as Morningside University and Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

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"It was such a fun experience," Bowman said of visiting his potential colleges. "Each of the universities I visited was first class. I would have been honored to play for any one of them: great coaches, great programs, amazing enthusiasm, and each school has a culture of winning which was a significant draw for me."

While the programs in Iowa were among some of the best in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) conference, Bowman said there was an undeniable pull back to the home state.

"(Dickinson State) have won their conference and went on to play in the national playoffs the seven out of the last 10 years," Bowman said. "I didn't have to spend much time in their facility before realizing why they win so much — it’s part of the way they do life together.

"It’s in the conversation, the attitude and the DNA. They have an expectation to win. The coaches were confident, likable and very smart."

Bowman said head coach Pete Stanton from DSU sent him the scholarship offer while he was touring the two universities in Iowa in early January,

Northwestern sent him a few more counteroffers, but Bowman told his dad the night he received the text from Stanton that he thought he would be playing college football in North Dakota.

After graduating this spring, Bowman will be heading to the DSU campus this summer to start catching the football.

In preparation for his inaugural college football season, Bowman's physical training has taken the form of the post-season college receivers' workouts. In addition to catching, Bowman said he weight lifts for two hours per day and while on the cardio side, Bowman drills with a cardio/foot/hand workout daily.

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While he wasn't on the Blue Jays' state championship team last fall, Bowman acknowledged his football success was greatly aided by the programs offered to him while he was under the direction of the Jamestown coaching staff.

"Jamestown has a tremendous athletic program from youth all the way through high school," Bowman said. "I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to grow up in the Jamestown system.

"My coaches, church and friends in Jamestown have all been part of the process in helping me to become the young man I am today. I want to thank everyone who truly encouraged me along the way."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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