Who are student athletes? You never see them at parties, and 4 am is the regular waking up time for them. Diego Gonzalez, a football team kicker, shares his story of being a scholarship athlete at CU.

What made you come to Boulder specifically?

So, when I started playing football, I wanted to play at the highest level, here, in the US, not in Mexico. It’s called D1 college football, so Division 1. Me, for my positon, there are a couple of coaches who do kicking camps, and once you go with them, they kind of evaluate you. They have a ranking system that they use and later give information to college coaches. I did a couple of these camps, and one of the coaches gave out information to a special student coordinator, then they offered me a scholarship, and that was basically my only scholarship [laughs], so I decided to come here.

Have other schools reached out to you?

Yeah, they have, most of them offered a walk-on spot, so you don’t have a scholarship, just play on the team. But schools here, in the US, are really expensive [laughs], so I needed a scholarship.

How did you start playing football in the first place?

Back home, when I was 10 or 12, maybe, I played soccer, and a lot of my soccer teammates played football too, and they always invited me to play with them, but I didn’t really like the sport at a time, so I never went. Later though, when I stopped playing soccer, I was looking for another sport to play, and football came to mind.

Why’d you stop playing soccer?

I just didn’t like soccer enough to continue playing it seriously. So when I started looking for another sport, I first started boxing, which my mom didn’t like me doing.She was like: “Yeah, you can’t dot that sport anymore,” but I wanted to play something, so I thought about playing football. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but still decided to give it a try. So, that’s how I got into football.

A related question: what do you like the most about the game?

I really like the concept of a team sport, everyone’s important.

How is the environment in the US different from that in your hometown?

The fans. I mean, back home, if per game we had, say, more than 300 people, that was a pretty good turnout. But here, it’s a huge stadium of people supporting the team. And people care a lot more about football here than back home.

How often and how long you practice for?

Umm, it depends. When we are “on season”, we usually practice at around 7am, for 2 – 2 and a half hours, Monday  through  Friday, which  includes  weight room and  field practice.

What are your plans for the future, for your career and sports?

Well, my goal is to play in NFL, which is probably what all players want [laughs]. And it’s not easy to do, I think especially in my position, there’s basically just 32 spots, so… that’s sports-related. I mean, if that doesn’t work, I would like to work in my major-related position [Marketing and Operations Management] here, in the US. Maybe not Colorado, although I like this state a lot.

So if you had a choice, where would you go?

Probably somewhere else, where it’s warmer [laughs].