As American athletes head to Rio de Janeiro to represent their country in next month’s summer Olympics, Winslow’s Garrett Choate was in Canton, Ohio, hoping to represent the United States in a non-Olympic sport.

Choate, a 14-year-old about to enter his freshman year at Winslow High School, is one step away from playing in the International Bowl next year.

Last month, he was one of 200 kids selected for the USA Football National Development Games in Canton. From there, players will be selected to play for Team USA at the International Bowl in February at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

More than 8,000 players from 27 camps scattered around the country tried out to advance to the national development games. Choate, who tried out last year but didn’t make the games, attended a regional camp in Boston. Players were separated into position groups and were evaluated based on their performance in practice drills, including the 40-yard dash and USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling techniques.

While last year’s experience helped make the camp a little less nerve-wracking this year, Choate wasn’t very happy with his performance.

“When I went down to Boston, I wasn’t expecting to be picked at all,” he said. “I felt off. I didn’t feel I did my true best.”

However, coaches at the tryout thought otherwise and sent the 5-foot-8 1/2, 184-pound lineman to Canton to compete for a spot on the 16-and-under team.

Choate, who has been playing football since fourth grade, used his experience at last year’s tryout as motivation to get better. He said he worked harder in practice during his Winslow Middle School season than he ever had before and joined the track team to improve his speed and quickness.

He also attended a lineman academy run by former New England Patriot Max Lane to improve his technique. He also attended a football camp featuring current Patriots Bryan Stork, Duron Harmon and Justin Coleman.

Choate was one of the youngest players at the Canton camp, where he was evaluated, along with the rest of the prospects, by national team coaches. Camp started with practice on Tuesday morning and culminated with a game on Saturday.

The ultimate goal is to don the red-white-and-blue uniform in February, but he said he’ll treat the experience like he has other camps and tryouts — as an opportunity to become a better football player.

“I know there will be 200 kids there and there are quite a few upperclassmen there that are going to be bigger and stronger than me,” he said. “So I’ll go there to work as hard as I can and give it 150 percent and take all of it in.

“If I make the team, that would be amazing. To be able to step on an NFL football field would be mind-blowing.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33