There may be people who are too cool for school, but not too old for school, as the case of Aussie Hanes Stefanou illustrates.
At the ripe old age of 30, Stefanou has chosen an unusual path to sports glory by enrolling in the University of Colorado in Boulder as a student athlete with the CU Buffalos gridiron squad.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) grants four years of amateur sports eligibility, but does not have any age limitations.
Stefanou was able to maintain collegiate eligibility despite having a go at professional soccer after graduating from high school. He played for the Socceroos and the South Melbourne Football Club and Heidelberg United. If he had attended university in Oz and participated in sports, the NCAA would have limited his eligibility according to the number of years he had played in his homeland.
Stefanou had a friend who convinced him that Stefanou should change his focus and apply his skills to American gridiron, where streets paved with gold in such abundance that even Jarryd Hayne would blush await those with strong and accurate kicking legs.
He trained with Melbourne-based ProKick Australia, where rugby, soccer and Aussies Rules players receive rehabilitation to turn them into productive gridiron punters and placekickers.
He earned the starting role with the Buffaloes and made his debut against another Colorado institute of higher learning, Colorado State University (CSU), where he kicked a field goal.
Stefanou’s target is a slot with a professional team, either in the NFL, or like the friend who convinced him to give ProKick a try, the Canadian Football League. The potential financial awards at the pro level in the northern hemisphere would quickly silence those Aussies who loudly proclaim that no footy player is worth $1.2 million.
The role of placekicker on a gridiron job is the second best position available, second only to punter. Unlike punters, who rarely have the winning spotlight or the losing onus placed upon them, placekickers are often involved in last-second pressure-packed game winning field goal attempts that have a huge influence on the outcome of a game.