Chris Papagianis: Marvel On and Off the Field

With three seconds left on the clock. Notre Dame has time for one last field goal attempt. Placekicker Chris Papagianis trots onto the field... The 45-yard boot is up, it's long enough' it's good! The Fighting Irish 16, Texas 14'"

Chris Papagianis? Kicking field goals for Notre Dame? You've got to be kidding. But improbable as it seems, this fairytale scenario might have come true, if Harvard's exciting and flamboyant All-Ivy soccer forward had accepted a lucrative scholarship and taken his talents to South Bend, Ind.

"I wanted to go to Notre Dame bad Papa said. "It was a big place, and they were gonna pay some good bread. The day I got accepted at Brown and Harvard, and found out that the deal with Missouri was going to come through my father sat down with my uncles and we thought about it, rather they thought about it and I decided to give it (Harvard) a chance."

As it is he came to Harvard still interested primarily in kicking. He arrived a week before school started freshman year, and admits that he was "scared." "I went to the football practices, and quit after three days. Yovicsin would send me letters saying how glad he was that I was here, and telling me to come by his office and talk to him.

"One day after quitting I walked across the street and played soccer. It seemed that Harvard soccer was going someplace, and football was not. So I decided to stick with it, and after my freshman year when I scored 24 goals and the varsity went to San Jose to the national finals. I was really inspired to play soccer here. When I switched over Gatche freshman soccer coach Dana Gethell pretended he didn't know me but I think he knew who I was."



Odds are that Getchelt had heard of Papagianis who had compiled an impressive athletic record at Southwest High School in St Louis after immigrating to the United States from Greece Papagianis had made all state teams in football and soccer and played second base on Southwest's all state baseball team

Athletics in fact have played a dominant role in Papa's life from the exclusively soccer playing days of his youth in Greece to his football and soccer heroies in this country. "In Greece we learned early to play soccer. We played pickup games in the neighborhood and the fundamental skills came naturally Coming the America I picked up its brand of soccer the aggressiveness the hustle but I didn't forget the general outlook of the game and the basic skills I learned in Greece.

He hadn't learned to speak any English when he began to play soccer in St Louis "A gentleman came up to me from Art's Boys Club who had heard that I played soccer in Greece, and he asked my brother and I if we wanted to play ball He had to use hand signals and sign language, because I couldn't understand any English."

Eventually Papagianis played soccer in the Catholic Youth Conference, then junior cup soccer, and finally three years of high school varsity at Southwest during which he scored 78 goals.

A Football Success, Too

As he became more and more comfortable in America, Papagianis turned his attention to football. "It was a big challenge, everybody played football Soccer was big, and still is, but everybody around St. Louis follows football, so I decided to play."

As in just about every endeavor Papagianis tries he was a great success His opportunism paid off He ted the St Louis metropolitan area in scoring from his halfback slot adding extra points and field goals with his foot in one game be accounted for all of his teams 41 points

In many ways Papagianis has tried to Americanize himself as much as possible opting for the American game of football over the European game of soccer adopting American lifestyles dress and speech. As he talked in his well furnished Mather tower room only his slow deliberate of speech careful choice of words and an occassional grammatical mistake betrayed the fact that English is not his native tongue

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