How This Newsletter Helped Me Discover My True Athletic Identity

Apr 08, 2008 12:28 AM  By

It’s funny how the list beat made me come to grips with reality.

The story of my self-discovery came up Thursday when I was talking with one of the judges of the 2008 MCM Awards. It was the day of an NCAA national championship game, and that that brought back some painful memories.

Not only did I have the finest mullet at New Canaan High School in suburban Connecticut, I thought my destiny was to be a place-kicker in the National Football League.

Apparently so did a handful of NCAA Division I-AA and Division II schools. They sent me recruiting letters after my junior year.

The only trouble was I hadn’t even kicked in a varsity game. And they had no film of me, all 130 pounds of me, kicking extra points in sub-varsity contests with my way-outdated square-toed kicking shoe.

I ignored my friends, family, teammates, and coaches who advised me to stop deluding myself. Why should I when Toledo, Bowling Green, Akron, Delaware State, Plymouth State, and Slippery Rock were holding the locker room doors open for me?

I went to a place-kicking camp run by NFL legend Mark Moseley that June of 1986. And on the way, I made unofficial visits to the Pennsylvania and Ohio schools. Everything seemed to go great. After camp, a few more letters came to my door, even though I’d fallen in love with former Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust and his Akron Fighting Zips.

But then I was sidelined by mononucleosis in my senior year. I had no tape to give the schools, and I thought I’d fallen off the radar. I decided to take a semester off after high school and decide what I wanted to do with my life. Yes, I went back to Moseley’s camp to hopefully attract scouts right after I’d graduated high school.

In my eyes, I conquered the camp. But no more recruiting letters came. And even when I walked into the football office my first day as a full-time student at Western Connecticut State University, in January 1989, the coaches had never heard of me.

So instead of kicking in college, I started working for my college paper, then some local news outlets, and gave up on my NFL career.

And it was a good thing, too. Two decades later, I realized I wasn’t a potential NFL place-kicker, but a name on a list. I’m sure when I registered for Moseley’s camp, my name went to colleges who were looking for place-kickers. After all, it wasn’t a position that schools were knocking the doors down for. It usually was filled by a walk-on.

So why didn’t they send letters after I’d graduated? Because I’m sure the colleges were looking at names of attendees who were not already high school graduates. These schools had no information on my post-graduate work, of if I was already enrolled in a school, which would have possibly made it difficult to travel.

So thank you, list industry, for finally making me come to my senses. Here’s to hoping I don’t trip over a treadmill.