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Right down the middle

August 8, 2008 - Per Peterson
How does one know what you have a potential star in the family? How do you when that day is that sometime in the future your kid will be interviewed and he or she will speak of one particular day when they realized what their true talent was? I might have an idea, when it comes to my 10-year-old stepson Austin, who last weekend at Vikings training camp decided he wanted to try a kick a field goal at one of the games that was set up as part of the entertainment at camp. It was a simple set-up. Kids stood in line waiting to kick a football off a tee through field goal posts superimposed on a stadium-like background. It wasn’t 100 percent true to life — the ball wasn’t a real NFL ball (although it was close) and they were kicking into an inflatable structure — but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is this kid — probably the smallest in his class — stepped up and booted his first kick high and through the uprights. After, we calmly said, ‘hey, way to go Austin.’ Then he wanted to do it again. So we let him go ahead, get back in line and kick another one. Same thing. Booted it high and right down the middle. “Hey!” we said. “Good job.” Kid’s pretty good, we thought. Then he did it again. High, straight through the uprights. Other kids twice his size were kicking ground balls and low line drives. I don’t remember seeing any other kid actually come close to making a field goal. One kid’s shoe ended up flying over a fence. No one really took it seriously. Except Austin, and then me. So my brother challenges him and puts the tee back a few yards and he kicks another one through. Then we moved it back again and got the same result. To others, it probably looked like he was showing off, but we didn’t care. Long story short, we might just have found his calling. He loves football, but his size, we thought before last weekend, might not have allowed him to play when he gets older. Now he’s got an in. Kickers don’t have to be big. In fact, few of them are. Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion — I don’t want to become one of those parents who push their kids into doing something and think they’ll be the next whoever. But then again maybe I’m not. All I know is the kid’s got a knack for kicking footballs, and if his talent someday lands him a scholarship or a job in the NFL getting paid $2 million a year to kick field goals, then I think it’s worth pursing, and that’s all the more reason to hope that last Saturday could’ve been that day we look back on when we learned of his talent.


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