Call Me Mr. Lucky!

I disliked the head coach so I quit the football team my senior year in high school. The following fall (1965) I registered at the local junior college in my home town of Burlington, IA primarily to avoid the draft and the inevitable trip to Viet Nam had I been drafted. Back then students attending college were exempt from the draft.

In the fall of 1965, while attending Burlington Junior College I happened to meet the head basketball coach, Ed Sparling, a very colorful gent in his own right, and I became one of his student managers. We had some incredible athletic talent and a very successful basketball season. In the process Coach Sparling and I became friends.

In the spring (1966), sometime after the basketball season was over, one of the players (Rick Lowery) happened to mention to the coach that I had been a place-kicker on the local high school football team. Now Coach Sparling took great pride in making sure all of his players received scholarship offers after their playing days in Burlington. And fortunately for me he included one of his student managers in his scholarship producing efforts.

Coach Sparling Writes a Letter
Despite the fact that he’d never seen me kick anything, Coach Sparling wrote a letter praising my place-kicking prowess and sent it to a สมัครเว็บบอล ufabet dozen head football coaches across the Midwest. I never saw the actual letter, but whatever he said, it was good enough to get the attention of Howard Fletcher, the head football coach at Northern Illinois University in the spring of 1966.

Coach Fletcher Offers Me a Football Scholarship
Coach Fletcher responded by inviting me to visit campus. My father and I drove to NIU. We spent an hour or so touring campus with Coach Fletcher. Then, without ever asking me to kick a single football, he offered me a scholarship covering tuition and books in order to play football at NIU. To say I was thrilled beyond belief is an understatement. I’d quit my high school football team and suddenly I’m offered a college football scholarship? But this is only the beginning!

The Square Toed Shoe
In the wake of our visit, my dad, a bit of an innovator himself, took a pair of my old football shoes down to the local shoe repair shop in downtown Burlington and asked the owner to concoct a square toe on the front of the right shoe. Yes, back in 1966 footballs were still being kicked with the toe of the foot instead of with the instep like soccer style kickers do today. This increased the surface area and improved the odds of kicking the ball through the goal posts.