October 12, 2017 07:57 PM
(ABC 6 News) – The Fillmore Central Falcons football team started the 2017 season 1-2—but the Falcons, and their beloved new kicker, have turned things around in Harmony, and have booted their way to a three-game winning streak.
“For me, it’s really special,” Falcons senior kicker Ivar Wilmink said.
Wilmink hasn’t been in Harmony, Minnesota too long—he’s relatively new to southeastern Minnesota in general.
“Ivar, on day one, he came in, he made good eye contact, introduced himself,” Falcons head football coach Chris Mensink said. “He’s a very confident young man, and he fit right in with our kids.”
Until a few months ago, Wilmink had never played American football—but at Fillmore Central, Wilmink is already playing a key role.
“I’m a kicker,” Wilmink said. “I don’t really have to know the plays, they just call me in.”
“It’s always good to get a kicker,” Wilmink’s longsnapper, senior captain Brady Ristau, said. “He specializes in kicking. He’s a good kid, he’s funny to be around, and he’s a good guy. It looks like he’s having a good time.”
Wilmink arrived in Harmony on August 12—two days before the Falcons opened summer football practice. Before August, Wilmink was not familiar with American football, and his current teammates taught him the basics of the game.
Wilmink has a background as a soccer player, and he said learning how to kick a football wasn’t a difficult transition for him.
“It really didn’t take him much to learn it,” Ristau said. “Kicking, once he got steps down and got that confidence, he’s just been automatic.”
“Once he picked up on the steps and the footwork and the consistency, he’s gotten better and better every week,” Mensink added. “Every day in practice he really works hard at it.”
Wilmink isn’t from Minnesota—or the United States. He’s originally from Delden, which is located in the easter part of the Netherlands, and he’s enrolled at Fillmore Central through the school’s foreign-exchange program.
“It’s pretty cool, (I have) a lot of new friends,” Wilmink said. “I love to meet new friends, so that’s pretty nice. It’s fantastic I think.”
Wilmink is described as a “great personality” on the Falcons team, but he has also brought a very technical and detailed approach to the field—that approach helped Wilmink earn the Falcons starting kicking job before their week five game against Southland, a game where he made five extra-points and field goal.
“We love having Ivar,” Mensink said. “It was not hard to teach him. He’s making the most of his opportunity.”
“No matter what, in school, if he likes to get stuff just right, shop class he likes to get it, and kicking, he doesn’t like to miss,” Ristau said. “He loves to learn.”
Mensink said Wilmink isn’t the first foreign-exchange student to play football at Fillmore Central. Wilmink may be a long way from home, but he’s fitting right into the American culture.
“I started making friends right away actually and you know, I’ve been busy since I got here,” Wilmink said. “My friends keep me busy, school keeps me busy, football keeps me busy, it’s pretty cool.”
Wilmink will be at Fillmore Central for the remainder of the year, and said his family will visit him near the end of the school year. Wilmink and the Falcons return to the gridiron on Friday at Wabasha-Kellogg.
Updated: October 12, 2017 07:57 PM
Created: October 12, 2017 05:25 PM
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