Oct. 19, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 4

Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

His Walk-on a Walk on the Wild Side

Replacement kicker finds himself in the big-time spotlight

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Like many Boston College students, Carroll School of Management sophomore Steve Aponavicius occasionally checks out the "Facebook" page on his computer, a favorite cyberspace port for undergraduates to exchange greetings and information.

Last week, he found his page swamped with messages from Virginia Tech rooters as the young place-kicker from Easton, Pa., prepared to play against the Hokies on Thursday night in the first organized football game of his life.

"I got a lot of messages from Virginia Tech kids telling me that I was going to miss every kick and their big guys were going to kill me," laughed Aponavicius, who completed a perfect night by kicking two field goals and a pair of extra points in BC's stunning 22-3 victory over the Techsters.

Aponavicius said he also had a queue of 21 voicemail messages on his campus telephone when he awoke the morning after the nationally televised ESPN game that marked his football debut. Most, he assumes, are congratulatory calls from BC fans thrilled with his performance in the game.

"It's kind of scary how accessible we all are," he mused.

Aponavicius became the object of widespread attention when he was called upon by Eagles' coach Tom O'Brien to handle placekicking chores after their starting kicker was suspended for violating team rules.

The new kicker - often called "Sid Vicious" by coaches and teammates wishing to avoid wrestling with his polysyllabic family name - earned a spot on the roster as a walk-on candidate who had never played football before ("I had played lots of backyard football, but never with pads or anything like that"). He was a soccer and baseball standout at his hometown Easton High School.

Enrolled as a finance and marketing dual major in the Carroll School, Aponavicius spent some of his spare time as a freshman practicing placekicking by himself in Alumni Stadium. He was spotted by an assistant coach one day and was added to the varsity roster in spite of his lack of previous football experience.

His on-field debut came on one of college football's biggest stages - a nationally televised game against Virginia Tech, a team renowned for their kick-blocking skills.

The Eagles deferred the ball after winning the pre-game coin toss, and Aponavicius found himself preparing to kick off for the game's opening play. "The kickoff actually helped me settle my nerves a little," he admits.

He showed no signs of nervousness in his ensuing placements, either, hitting the pair of extra points and field goals from 36 and 20 yards out.

"On the first extra point I was just trying not to think about anything," he says. "I just wanted to keep my head down and follow through.

"I tried to forget about the camera, the crowd, everything. It was just Jack (Geiser) snapping the ball and Chris (Crane) holding."

Aponavicius says he was not even fazed by having his parents in the stands to watch him play. "They weren't planning on coming. Thursday night is not a great time to make that five-hour drive from Easton. But as soon as they heard I was playing, they wanted to come."

His father Ben, a retired chemist, and mother Jan, a nursery school teacher, received lots of ESPN screen time as they joyfully watched their son add eight points to the Eagles' winning total.

"It could have been a disaster if I had let all of the outside factors get to me," Aponavicius said. "But one thing a kicker has to be able to do is to block things out."

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