Friday, April 20, 2007

Rutkowski plans to kick field goals or fix teeth

WRHS senior faces choices as high school years come to an end

Wood River High School senior Cory Rutkowski, who has aspirations to kick field goals someday in the National Football League, enjoys a close relationship with his father Rick Rutkowski. The two agree that ?Monty Python and the Holy Grail? is the best movie ever made. Photo by David N. Seelig

It's kind of a tossup between becoming an orthodontist or kicking field goals in the National Football League. But anyone who knows Cory Rutkowski probably figures he'll try to do both.

A gifted athlete and a serious scholar, Rutkowski faces choices as his senior year comes to a close at Wood River High. But his eyes light up when the 18-year-old talks about his kicking game.

Rutkowski seems to excel at pretty much everything he does. He has a grade point average of 3.9, was the leading scorer on the Wolverine basketball team the past two seasons, kicked a 50-year field goal for the Wolverine football squad in 2006, has been a standout soccer player and swings a mean tennis racquet. Rutkowski and mixed doubles partner Whitney DeBree are considered strong candidates for a state championship this spring.

Apart from that, Rutkowski is a likeable, humble and considerate guy.

"Cory's a really compassionate person," said his father Rick Rutkowski. "He thinks about how others feel and he never says any mean things about anyone."

Cory Rutkowski also lives a disciplined life. Academics come first. After that, it's off to the tennis court or to a football field to practice kicking field goals.

"He kicked a 55-yarder just the other night," his father said.

Rutkowski's kicking accomplishments with the Wolverines were significant enough to win him one of only eight achievement awards in Idaho this year from The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Award recipients were honored at a banquet earlier this month in Boise.

"These scholar-athletes were selected based upon their outstanding academic achievements, school and community leadership and football performance," the foundation wrote in a press release announcing Rutkowski as one of the winners.

What makes Rutkowski's gridiron accomplishments even more noteworthy is the fact that he's only played football one year—Wolverine head coach Mike Glenn recruited him prior to start of the 2006 football season.

"Coach Glenn asked him to come out," said Rick Rutkowski. "He ended up liking the coaching staff and the players so much that he ended up kicking and not playing soccer. He had never punted a football before and coach (John) Rade taught him how to punt."

But Cory Rutkowski is mainly self-taught when it comes to kicking field goals. His soccer experience helped, he studied the basics of field goal kicking and then just went out and started doing it.

Now, he kicks almost every day. When snow covered the ground in the Wood River Valley, Rutkowski and his father made numerous trips south to the Twin Falls area to find good grass surfaces for kicking. When spring break came, Rutkowski and his father traveled to California where Cory attended a field goal kicking clinic.

Come next fall, Cory Rutkowski plans to be kicking field goals at the college level, even though his late entry into the sport of football precluded him from athletic scholarship consideration.

He's been accepted at five different universities and several of them have offered him academic scholarships. He's currently leaning toward either the University of Washington or the University of Oregon, which has offered him a $20,000 academic scholarship.

Rutkowski and his father have met with the coaching staffs of both universities and either school is anxious to have him try out for football as a walk on.

Academics are also an important consideration, and he plans to enter one of the two universities next fall as a pre-dental major.

Rutkowski said he lives by the rules of "don't procrastinate—get your school work done and focus on that, and then do athletics."

Rutkowski has interests beyond school and sports. He enjoys hanging out with his girlfriend, reading J.R.R. Tolkien and Harry Potter books, listening to Queen and watching The Simpsons and The Family Guy. He and his father agree that "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is the best movie ever made.

Cory and Rick Rutkowski have a close relationship, and Cory acknowledges that his father sets a good example and helps him be successful at both school and sports.

"I've had this guy to help me out," Cory said of his father. "Most of it's self-motivated, but my parents have been there to help me."

Rick Rutkowski is proud of his son, his attitude and his accomplishments.

"He'll either be a place kicker or an orthodontist," his father said.

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