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Editor's view: Exchange student couldn't wait to toss the football

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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For a young man growing up in Austria, it’s hard to be an American football fan. In Austria, and most of the rest of the world, the favorite sport is soccer (or as the rest of the world calls it, football). So when 17-year-old Elias Steyrer had the opportunity to participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange program this year, he hoped to be able to toss the ol’ pigskin. What he wasn’t expecting was to land on a team that ended up winning a division title and a state championship — or to receive a letter from then-Gov. Schwarzenegger. “I only wanted to come to America to do sports and get out of school for a year,” he joked. “I also wanted to learn better English. I told myself, before I came here, I wanted to be on a football team. It was really amazing that I could be on the Folsom High School team. I’ll never forget it.” Steyrer and Schwarzenegger both hail from Austria. “I got a letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger that said he’s proud of me,” Steyrer said. “It was pretty cool. I really appreciate what (both Rotary clubs) are doing for me.” He’s sponsored by the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills and the Rotary Club of Folsom Lake. He played halfback and managed to get in five or six plays, for which he’s grateful. He’s now on the school’s swim team. One of the biggest challenges wasn’t on the field, but off. “I learned to appreciate other things and not compare everything to Austria,” he said. Another big culture shock was seeing Southern California for the first time while there to play in the state title match. “It was pretty exhausting going to Disneyland,” he said. “It was pretty busy. I was also surprised at how big Los Angeles is. The biggest city in Austria is Vienna and they have like one million people living there.” L.A.’s population is nearly four times that amount while the county has nearly 10 million residents. But, one of the highlights of his time in the U.S. happened on a bicycle. “We rode a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge,” he said. “It was pretty special.” Pub crawl kicks off Bob and Chris Quinlan have started a new biz that puts feet (and dollars) in local establishments. Dubbed AppeteasersUSA, their endeavor officially kicks off with a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl on Saturday, March 12. The Quinlans describe it as a “portable party” that visits eight restaurants and bars in four hours. The first of their ongoing crawls will focus on Sutter Street. “For $25 you will get free quality appetizers at each stop and discounted drinks,” according to Bob. “You can bring your own crowd or be introduced to new people also in a playful mood. You’ll have lots of options.” The Quinlans organized their first pub crawl in 2005 for the local Rotary club when they organized an “A-Z Pub Crawl,” in which they visited 26 drinking holes (starting with letters A-Z) in one night, all with the safety of a trolley bus. They say it’s a good way to introduce people to local restaurants and watering holes in an organized fashion. Of course, you must be at least 21 to participate. They are limiting the number of attendees, so purchase your tickets at AppeteasersUSA.com if you’d like to take the stroll. Reach Telegraph Managing Editor Don Chaddock at donc@goldcountrymedia.com.