BEMIDJI - Kyle Fodness grew up kicking a soccer ball but he always dreamed of booting a football for the University of Minnesota.
"My grandfather and my dad are both Gopher fans and kicking for the Gophers was a life-long dream," Fodness said. "But that dream died a little when I went with soccer instead of football."
Last fall, however, the prospects of kicking for the Maroon and Gold resurfaced when fate enabled Fodness to play both soccer and football.
Lumberjacks kicker Jon Henry injured his knee prior to the season and the football team was looking for someone to handle the place kicking duties.
Fodness volunteered and his ability to boot the football was among the reasons Bemidji advanced to the Class 4A championship game.
As fate would have it, the Gophers were looking for a future kicker and they considered Fodness a candidate.
Gophers officials watched and instructed Fodness during a couple of kicking camps and also viewed videos of Fodness in action.
Those officials were impressed with what they saw and in late April Fodness received a phone call from Gopher coach Jerry Kill.
"Coach Kill called to say that he wanted me to come to Minnesota," Fodness said. "I'm very excited to kick for the Gophers but it's a bittersweet moment because I am ending my soccer career.
"But I also am going to kick for a great program."
Fodness expects to red-shirt his first year and hopes to challenge for the starting kicking job in 2013.
Fodness and fellow Lumberjacks seniors Cody Rutledge and Mitchell Hendricks announced their collegiate intentions Monday in a ceremony at the high school.
Rutledge plans to pursue his baseball career at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. Hendricks is headed to St. John's University in Collegeville to play football.
Johnson County CC is ranked 38th in the national JUCO baseball poll. Rutledge believes that playing at Johnson County CC will enhance his chances at eventually being drafted by a major league baseball team.
"My goal is to get looked at by a top Division I school and the ultimate goal is to get drafted by a major league club," Rutledge said. "I knew I would have a better chance to get recognized by a Division I school by playing baseball in a junior college in the southern half of the country. This will enable me to face the best competition that is out there for two years."
Johnson County CC coach Kent Shelley plans on playing Rutledge either in left field or center field.
"I will need to work on my speed, my arm strength and adjusting to the better pitchers," Rutledge said. "But it is time to move on."
Hendricks is excited to join the tradition that is St. John's University football.
"I like the program at St. John's and the school just feels right to me," he said.
Hendricks, who quarterbacked the Lumberjacks to the state title game last fall, also considered Concordia-Moorhead but in the end, St. John's seemed a better fit.
"Both are great schools but St. John's is on the upswing again because of its young talent," he said.