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Ask Harvard placekicker Gary Bosnic about his first trip to Cambridge, in the spring of his senior year at Albert Gallatin H.S. in Masontown (pop: 5000), and the son of a coal miner will tell you flat out "I couldn't wait for the day to end--I didn't want to be that far from home."
Columbia University coach Bill Campbell had traveled to the region, which spawned another championship quarterback (Joe Namath), to recruit the 5-11, 185-pound QB-placekicker for the Lions.
"Mom and Dad loved Campbell, and he was very impressed with my films, but I just couldn't stomach New York," the junior Physical Sciences concentrator from Kirkland House said. "The subways there really scared me."
But Bosnic overcame his fear of another sprawling urban campus, thanks to the prodding of admiring townspeople, who had faith that Gallatin's student council president, salutarian and baseball-football captain could cut the Ivy mustard.
Bosnic found himself as a varsity reserve kicker last season, mired in obscurity by having to wear a duplicate jersey number.
All that changed, however, with the sudden departure of Jim Curry, the Crimson's premier kick-off man, right before the Boston University contest. Bosnic emerged as Curry's replacement with a pair of end-zone blasts against the Terriers, continued to kick-off for the remainder of the season, and even received the call on a few long field goal attempts. Bosnic had thus established himself as the heir-apparent to Lynch in the kicking department.
But the transition to the throne has been a rocky one for Bosnic this year. He thought he would be the kicker this year "unless I screwed up--and I almost did." Sick with debilitating flu during most of pre season training camp, Bosnic returned with his strength somewhat sapped.
A tired, drained Bosnic was "trying to force things I had just done naturally in the past,", he says. "I created bad habits for myself and lost a lot of the confidence I had built up over the summer."
It was no boost to his ego when he stepped onto Baker Field and botched the first extra-point of the season against Columbia. "I was more worried about missing it than just kicking it straight through," he now says.
At that point, Bosnic decided to adopt a new attitude. "I said to myself, `what's going to happen--just go out and do the best you can."
Just before the Dartmouth game, something did. Coach Joe Restic moved Jim Curry back to the kick-off slot while a disappointed Bosnic looked on from the bench. Did this mean that Bosnic's placekicking days were also over? Had the sun set on his varsity career before it had really gotten off the ground?
Don't despair, sports fan... this story has a happy ending. For on that day, when life seemed at its lowest ebb for this humble, unassuming young man, he got the call on a 40-yard field goal try.
"When he kicked it, I knew he had it with ten yards to spare," says Paul Halas, Gary's holder. Bosnic didn't jump and down with glee when it did split the uprights. Rather, he galloped off calmly after his first varsity field goal in the business-like manner that is his trademark.
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