By Matt Jenkins Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — Sometimes in life the destination chooses you.
Football was never the first choice for Tad Beuchert, but four years after putting his first set of shoulder pads on he’s making his mark on the gridiron for Assumption College.
Beuchert made a transition from soccer to football during his junior year at St. John’s Prep, eventually taking over the Eagles’ kicking duties as a senior. He performed well enough and enjoyed it enough to continue at Division 2 Assumption, where he earned the starting place-kicker job this fall as a junior.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love football,” Beuchert said. “I never thought I would say that. It’s definitely a different path, but it definitely turned out the best for me.”
Beuchert grew up playing soccer, but found himself in an unusual position when he was cut from the St. John’s program at the beginning of his junior year. The next day he went to the office of Eagles’ football coach and Athletic Director Jim O’Leary to inquire about football.
It quickly became clear that Beuchert could help the St. John’s kicking game.
“I played receiver for a little bit, but I had trouble remembering the plays and running routes,” said Beuchert, a Danvers native. “Coach O’Leary saw that I could kick and they trusted me with the JV team at first, then I made an appearance the next year on the varsity and did very well. I had one field goal my senior year, but I made the most of it kicking it during the Thanksgiving Day game against Xaverian. I definitely like the pressure; that’s my favorite part. It’s never easy and it’s always something different.”
So far Beuchert has thrived under pressure as a college kicker. He has been named the Northeast-10 Special Teams Player of the Week twice already this season and he ranks among the top 20 kickers in Division 2.
Beuchert booted three field goals against Saint Anselm College in the Greyhounds’ first game of the season, then three more field goals against American International College two weeks ago.
Both performances earned him the NE-10 honors.
“It means a lot because it shows that I’m doing my job,” the 20-year-old Beuchert said. “I’m playing to the best of my ability, but helping the team is the most important thing. It’s not always easy to lose, but I don’t do it for the recognition. It’s nice to be noticed because I do work hard.”
Once Beuchert committed to becoming a kicker, he began putting a lot of time into it. He received plenty of advice and help from Xaverian assistant coach John Fiatarone the summer before his freshman year at Assumption, and former Greyhounds’ assistant coach John Barker was instrumental in helping Beuchert improve at the college level.
It hasn’t taken Beuchert long to make his mark for the 1-4 Greyhounds. He currently ranks 19th in Division 2 in field goals, having made 7 of 10 attempts.
“I was really prepared coming in (to freshman year). Although I was a backup, I continued to work at it. My numbers in the weight room continued to go up and now in my junior year I’m starting and it just shows that the hard work paid off,” Beuchert said. “All the help that I’ve gotten in the past I appreciate it. I pretty much taught myself how to kick and people along the way have really helped.”
Beuchert also feels the support he has received from his parents — Doreen and Ted — has helped him stay committed to kicking.
“They’ve really been the most supportive in my transition and to where I am right now,” Beuchert said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents.”
Just becoming Assumption’s starting kicker is not Beuchert’s ultimate goal.
He hopes to continue his improvement and hopes that his performance will only push his coaches to have more confidence in him.
He has kicked four field goals of the 30-yard variety this year with a long of 36-yards, but his range goes much further.
“My longest (in practice) has been 54 yards. I haven’t really tested that in a game situation. On campus this preseason I did hit a 50-yarder,” Beuchert said. “My leg is getting stronger and my accuracy is better. I’m focusing on being accurate and consistent. I’m comfortable from 45 yards or closer.”
Beuchert enjoys the pressure that kickers face and he’d love the opportunity to boot a game-winning field goal with time running out.
“I think (Assumption coach Cory Bailey) trusts me and I definitely hope I can get the opportunity to make a big kick,” Beuchert said. “I always dreamt about it and it will come; I’m ready for it.”