GOING from Victoria Country cricket and TAC Cup footy to American College football is unheard of in Australian sport, but for Bendigo’s Jack Bouwmeester, that’s become his reality.
The 19-year-old punter is about to sign with Big 10 US College team Michigan State, after a kick with a Melbourne based American football academy in February, and then committing with the club in October.
Speaking to the Bendigo Weekly on a visit to Bendigo on Wednesday with Michigan coach Don Treadwell, Bouwmeester said it felt weird to have been selected given his recent move to the sport.
“I can’t really explain how it feels because I didn’t really know where I would be going, obviously there are different levels of College football and to be going to be playing in the Big 10 is a pretty crazy opportunity,” he said.
Despite his strong Australian football background, Bouwmeester said he was confident the transition to American football would be straight forward, with American punting similar to Australian kicking.
“It’s obviously going to be different but obviously there are parts of American football which are going to be like Australian football,” he said.
“…it’s just about learning all the little rules the offense and defense do, but in terms of special teams plays and punting I’ll be fine.”
Bouwmeester recently toured the campus set to be his home for the next four years, receiving strong mentoring from players such as Matt Coghlin and fellow punter Jake Hartbarger.
“…it’ll be good to have those guys (around), especially for an Australian that’s never played a snap of football before,” he said.
Bouwmeester is hopeful he’ll play his first game next September.
“I’ve spoken to a few boys who have played in the Big 10 and they said before you’re about to run out for your first game, it is the most nerve-wracking experience they’ve had in their lives,” he said.
– Sam Kane and Ben Hann