At the beginning of this school year, Troy High School Junior Josh Purcell was called down to the office from his directed study class. On the way down, Josh thought the worst. "Oh no! What have I done?"

He was relieved when all they did was hand him an envelope. He took it back to his class and opened it.

The letter invited him, as an athlete on the Troy High School track and field team, to participate in the Down Under Sports Tournament hosted on the Gold Coast of Australia during the summer of 2013. As soon as he had read the letter, he had to show it to everyone in his class.

"I was kind of stunned that they picked me, being my first year," said Josh. When he got home, he walked in the door, handed the letter to his mom and said, "Check this out!"

"I was surprised, but very proud," said Tonia Purcell. "It's going to be a unique experience!"

Josh's dad, David Purcell said, "We're so proud of him. I think it's fabulous!"

Josh's sister, Alicia said, "I'm proud too, but I'm also going to miss him. It'll be different in the house; a little more quiet!"

Down Under Sports programs provide a forum for athletes around the world to compete in track and field, cross country, wrestling, football, volleyball, and basketball. They believe that "sport is the international language common to all countries and people around the world and that it can help remove cultural and international barriers." Their mission is to "promote the growth, development and self-esteem of the individual athlete through sport; to raise the level of awareness and competition to the benefit of both the host country and the participating athlete; to forge friendships that bridge the gap of both distance and time; through mutual competition that promotes health and sportsmanship."

Josh will be one of 300 chosen from the United States, representing his state, to compete along with Australia and New Zealand, in this international event. Down Under Sports looked at all the accomplishments of all the high school level track and field participants in the United States to make their decision of who to invite. Josh was invited.

"Impressive, isn't it," said Tonia, who watched her son participate in many track and field meets. Tonia said that Josh's coach Darin Young told her Josh was a real competitor. She remembers his words of amazement as he watched Josh run in one of the meets, "Who is that kid and where did he come from?"

Ron Bellinger is the long distance coach, and even though he doesn't work directly with Josh, he has seen him run and according to Josh, has been a good influence on him.

This is only Josh's second year in track and field, but he has always been a very fast runner. This writer, as his second grade teacher, remembers how fast he ran on the Mosherville playground!

Perhaps it isn't so surprising that Josh has been invited to participate on the North Central Conference Track and Field Team in Australia. At the Districts last year he qualified for 8 events, but had to choose 4 to actually participate in because athletes are limited to just 4 events. He won medals in three out of four of his events. Those were the 300 meter hurdles, the 4X4 400 meter relay, and the 4X1 relay. According to Josh, the 4X4 was the most exciting. In that event each runner runs completely around the track one time, and then passes the baton to the next runner. During Districts Josh also placed 9th in the 110 meter hurdles.

Josh was the one who accomplished the most as a first year runner. At the end of the season team banquet, Tonia remembers that he was constantly called up to receive ribbons and trophies.

As Josh approaches his senior year and graduation he is looking to go on to college to study some area of science, possibly chemistry, as a pre-med student.

"I remember all that exciting science we did in second grade," said Josh, who also wants to join the Army National Guard during college, as he found out it offers a good program to go along with his college career.

But for now he is focused on this school year and the excitement that lies in wait for him when he goes to Australia. Josh and his family are working on fundraising so that he will be able to participate in this exciting event next summer. They are hoping to do a chicken bar-be-cue through the South Creek Lions Club. They have also been making their way around to local businesses asking for sponsors to help support the funding for his trip. Other possible ideas that are still in the thought stages are selling candy bars and hoagies, and having a car wash in the spring. They are looking for more ideas. If anyone has any ideas they would like to share, or would like to help sponsor this talented athlete, contact dpurcell2010@hotmail.com Checks can be made out to Down Under Sports and sent to Down Under Sports 1755 North 400 East, Suite 201 North Logan, UT 84341. Please write "For Josh Purcell" on the check.

"We would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to help this incredible journey," said Tonia. "We really appreciate it."

George Scanlon, founder of Down Under Sports in 1989, said, "Down Under Sports programs use the common language of sports to bridge the continents…"

Josh and his family are very excited that he will be able to cross that bridge. When asked how he was feeling about all of this, Josh answered with a big grin, "Just kind of happy!"