Bruce Tetirick Nears Ivy League Title After Nine Lonely Years, 30,000 Kicks
The life of the collegiate kicking specialist is a lonely one, as Bruce Tetirick, who boots field goals and extra points for Harvard's football team, can testify.
Every afternoon Tetirick leaves his Harvard House, dons his pads and works up a good sweat, like every other Crimson gridiron player.
But the place he leaves, the way he treks, what he dons, and how he sweats make Tetirick different from the rest.
Adams House, where Tetirick says he is one of only two varsity gridders, is a far cry from the atmosphere of Columbus, Ohio, where he played on three consecutive state championship teams at Upper Arlington High School.
"It used to bother me how little recognition a Harvard athlete gets when he comes back to his House, especially after a game where he might have turned in the best performance of his career," Tetirick says.
"I've gotten used to it now, though, and it has forced me to look at my own participation primarily in terms of an individual sense of accomplishment," he adds.
Tetirick gets into his orange Toyota Corolla sports car at about 3 p.m. each practice day, drives to Soldier's Field, parks behind Dillon and psyches himself for another day's supply of footballs.
Tetirick tapes his ankle and laces his prized foot in a special square-toed shoe--the trademark of the conventional, straight-on kicker.
He then goes to the opposite end of the stadium from the rest of the team with his coach Tony Correia and back-up kicker Gene Pierce. And he kicks away.
Tetirick has kicked footballs at crossbars, by his own estimation, at least 30,000 times since he took over the job for his junior high team nine years ago. That means 40 boots a day, five days a week for 15-20 weeks a year.
After three years as Harvard's first-string specialist, the practice is paying off. Tetirick is already the leading placekicker in Harvard scoring history, with 111 points.
His 6.7 point-per-game average is currently ninth among kickers in the NCAA and, if continued, will land him at season's end in the number three position on Harvard's all-time career scoring list.
Tetirick needs twelve points to pass the 122 career total of Princeton's Charlie Gogolak (1963-65), who had the Ivy League record until last Saturday.
Dartmouth's Ted Perry, the soccer-style specialist from Uruguay, kicked Gogolak out of first place with six points against Columbia last weekend, putting him at a three season total of 124 points. Perry has 29 points this year to Tetirick's 47, and has dropped from a 31 to a 13 point lead over Tetirick since the beginning of September.
Tetirick has improved vastly this year over his 28-point performance of 1972, coach Correia says. "He has improved his approach to the ball so that he is neither too far behind it, where it won't rise, nor too close under it, where it'll have height, but no power."
The credit for Tetirick's improvement this year is due only to his own dedication, Correia says.
But Tetirick himself attributes much of his success to the general team improvement. "I'm at the mercy of the team. If the offense moves the ball and the defense keeps us in enemy territory, then I get my chance," he says.
Tetirick is fortunate to have a high-quality snapper in Brian Hehir, and "the smoothest holder in the college ranks, Jimmy Stoeckel," Correia says. I have timed the [New England] Pats at 1.5 seconds from snap to impact, while the slowest Harvard does is 1.3 seconds."
Scouts from the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, and Dallas Cowboys have come to watch Tetirick this season, Correia says.
If he doesn't go pro, Tetirick says he wants to attend Baylor Medical School in Houston, Texas.