Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler, more than punters
It’s never easy to deal with death in the public eye, and it becomes even more difficult when it’s close to home. This past weekend, the world lost two standout individuals in Nebraska punter Sam Foltz, and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler. For two College Tailgate Writers, this tragic news hit particularly close to home. Kellan and Jamey offer their words on the tragedy that affected their home states respectively.
Sadler was a joy on the field and in the hallways of Forest Hills Northern High School. As a freshman, I was lucky enough to see Sadler in action a few times on the field. He was an incredible athlete, averaging 40 yards per punt as a senior, and having a personal best in high school of over 60 yards. He was the number three punter in the country, as well as the number five kicker in the country, according to Scouts.com. He holds the school record for a made field goal at 58 yards. Not only was Sadler a star on the gridiron, but he was also a varsity basketball player for the Huskies. Sadler was the face behind plenty of fake punts run by the Spartans’ special teams unit, and it always made me proud to tell people he went to my high school.
More importantly, Sadler was an academic star and a role model for all. He was heavily involved in other activities around the school, including broadcasting. Once while returning to FHN over a winter break, I ran into Sadler in the broadcasting studios. We talked a little about his time playing at Michigan State, and helped out with the broadcasting students.
Sadler was a graduate of Michigan State’s engineering school and earned his Master’s degree in Public Policy. He was to begin earning his Law degree at Stanford this fall.
Once news hit MSU’s campus, a rock on campus was painted green with the number 3, and flowers were placed at the the base of the rock.
I was extremely lucky to attend the same high school as Sadler, as well as his sister, Katie. His mother is a substitute teacher at the school, and was a teacher in some of my classes. Each member of the Sadler family had only good qualities about them. I will never forget the impact that Mike had on myself and the FHN community. Rest in peace Mikey.
Though not born in Nebraska, Jamey went to high school in Omaha, and proudly calls himself a Nebraskan. In addition to this, he frequently visited his grandparents who lived there for many years. As such, Jamey is a natural Husker fan.
What is there to say that hasn’t been said before? We lost a great player and an outstanding person in Sam Foltz. He was loved by teammates and fans alike. As more and more stories come out from fellow Huskers and family members, one thing is certain: he was a great guy. Take for instance the following stories from sports director at 10/11 News in Lincoln, Kevin Sjuts:
“I remember covering him in high school. He made trips from Lincoln to Grand Island for me worth every second, and in college he never lost his spirit. Sam would chat while walking out to practice. He’d remind you of the Royals record and even one time he served as a one-person viewing audience for one of my sportscasts. He jokingly heckled me, yet offered encouragement.”
“This past spring, my son’s first grade class had “Superhero Week.” He invited two Husker players to come to the school — one was Sam Foltz. Sam sat in front of the classroom, playfully teased a Packers fan and took enough pictures to fill up an entire memory card. Never mind this was mid-week between weight lifting and class. Sam greeted members of the staff at school, signed a few autographs and stood around in the parking lot for 20 minutes outlining his plans for the future.”
Perhaps Foltz’s most admirable trait was his humble nature, and his dedicated attitude. One of his final tweets read:
— Sam Foltz (@samfoltz27) July 19, 2016
His work ethic shined brightly as he earned Big Ten punter of the year last year, and was on the watch list for the Ray Guy award for the nation’s best punter. Although athletic, he was pretty smart too. He finished with a degree in agronomy, and was set to begin school at Stanford Law School this fall.
The news is terrible, but amidst all the heartbreak, love and compassion has emerged. A vigil was held Sunday afternoon right outside of Memorial Stadium. Though hurt, a community gathered to remember one of their own. He grew up in a small town, and lived out the dream of every Nebraska kid by walking on, and eventually playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. Though he’s passed, Husker fans will no doubt keep Sam Foltz alive in their hearts for years to come. Rest in peace Sam the Punter.