Keith Kostol, Oregon State University’s punter, was pretty surprised when he got the news that he made the team as an incoming freshman. His priority in coming to OSU was the engineering school, but he sent a tape to the football coach as an afterthought. It earned him an invitation to visit spring practice to meet with special teams coach Bruce Read. After taking a tour of the facilities with his parents, one of the staff came up to tell him what time to show up for practice.
“I didn’t know what was going on at first. Then I realized that I was on the team,” he says.
Sports were always a focus in his family. His dad has been an avid basketball player all his life, and Kostol and his brother were multiple-sport athletes growing up in Tigard, Ore. — both playing for their high school soccer and football teams. Kostol also placed fourth as a senior in the state championships for high jump.
Unknown when he came to OSU, the coach must have seen something in that tape. As a junior, he was selected as a Pac-12 special teams player of the week and had a season punting average of 41.9 yards.
But he says he is still flying under the radar — most of his fellow electrical and computer engineering students don’t realize he plays football.
His interest in engineering started pretty young. “My parents could probably tell when I was really into Legos,” he says.
They also noticed his propensity for taking things apart to figure out how they worked. “My dad tells a story of how I once took apart a city bus seat when I was five,” he says.
Kostol hasn’t lost that curiosity. He is still dismantling items from cell phones to lawn mowers.
“Whenever anything breaks in our house, I’ll take it apart,” he says. He’s anxiously waiting for their television to quit working so he can pull out the amplifier and speakers and find another use for them.
However, with school and football there isn’t much time anymore to be experimenting with devices. But he says the time constraints of football season actually seem to help him in school.
“I’m more focused in football season because there are fewer distractions. I can’t be distracted from football, so it carries over into school,” he says.
The camaraderie of the team is also valuable to Kostol who helps teammates with math homework or drills after practice.
“We all help each other out so that we can become better football players and more effective people in general,” he says.
He feels the experiences he’s gained being part of a team will help him in his future career as an electrical engineer.
Given that he had not been expecting to play at all when he came to OSU, the 2012 season has been yet another surprise.
“The last two years (when I warmed the bench) were a little rough for the Beavers, so being on the team when we have been so successful feels awesome,” he says.
– by Rachel Robertson