For years Evan Steinruck practiced and played sports, everything from soccer to golf to basketball to football, all while doing well in academics. His love of sports paid off big time when last month, Steinruck headed to San Diego with the University of Washington football team as they took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Holiday Bowl.
Steinruck, a 2007 Lake Stevens High School graduate, had a lot of choices after receiving his high school diploma.
Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. came knocking at Steinruck’s door, hoping he would join their football team as a punter and place kicker. He was also accepted to Oregon State, University of Oregon, Gonzaga and UW.
His first priority was to get a good education so Steinruck chose to attend the UW.
“He really wanted to focus on where he was going to get his education,” Jim Steinruck, Evan’s dad said. “He really wanted to go to the University of Washington.”
Off to Seattle he went, however, he would not be playing football.
“By the time we came knocking on their doors they already had their teams in place,” Jim said. “He would have liked to have had a try-out but they already had their kickers.”
For the first three years at the UW, Steinruck continued to do well in school and is currently a senior attending Foster Business School working towards a degree in Marketing and Business. He pretty much had given up on the idea of playing for the Huskies.
However, in the fall of 2010, the Huskies punter got injured during practice, leaving only Kyle Rasp, the team’s back-up punter. Steinruck made his move and saw that this could just be his chance to become a member of the Huskies’ team.
“I read in the newspaper that our starting punter tore his ACL and was going to be out for a while,” Evan explained. “Eric Guttorp (my friend) is actually the back-up place kicker. I gave him a call and asked if they needed another kicker on the team. I wasn’t so concerned about playing but it’s been my dream to be on the team.”
That phone call made all the difference for Steinruck and changed his life at college.
“He (Guttorp) got me the special teams’ coach’s cell phone number. He told me I had to make a video and submit it to him.”
Steinruck and his dad spent the next weekend at Cavelero Mid High School chasing footballs as Evan continually practiced kicking footballs.
“He and I gathered up some footballs and went to Cavelero,” Jim explained. “He would punt the balls and I would chase the balls. We did this for few nights. I took the video camera up and put it on the tripod. We shot some video and he took it down to Coach Nanson (the special teams coach).”
That was all it took.
“I met with him (Coach Nanson) and made the team just from that,” Evan said.
Fast forward ahead as the Huskies head to Pullman for the Apple Cup game.
Normally back-up punters don’t get to travel to away games, the team wanted Steinruck there.
“On Thursday (before the game) they tell me he is going to the Apple Cup with them. Kyle was okay but they wanted Evan there,” Jim said. “They were ahead 14-0 at the Apple Cup and ended up winning 35-28.”
Soon came the opportunity to head south to the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The entire team was invited to go to the game where they were entertained and treated like royalty.
Steinruck was able to practice with the team on the stadium field.
“We got to do a ton of fun stuff. I definitely liked going out onto the field. The stadium was amazing and the atmosphere of thousands of people and being able to warm up for the game was a great experience,” Evan said. “The feeling was kind of surreal. It was special. They don’t let a whole of people down on the field. You’re one of a couple hundred people who get to be down there.”
The entire Steinruck family decided to follow Evan and the team to San Diego. Jim and wife Dawn and his sisters Alicia Nygard and Brook Lundquist were joined by their husbands Tim Nygard and Ryan Lundquist.
Needless to say, the Huskies ended up beating the Huskers 19-7 and Steinruck came home with a lifelong dream coming true.
“It’s been something I have dreamt of doing since I was a little boy. My grandpa played basketball for the Huskies in the 1920s,” Evan said. “Hearing his stories and growing up around him made me really want to play sports here at the UW.”
Steinruck is modest when it comes to what he has accomplished and is very appreciative of everyone who has been a part of his success throughout his life.
“I’m just thankful for growing up in Lake Stevens and going to Lake Stevens High School and being surrounded by teachers and coaches who encouraged me and really taught me a lot,” he said. “I don’t think I would have had the courage or the persistence to continue to try to walk on here otherwise. I feel blessed that those couches and teachers were put into my life.”
“My family has been my biggest fans. They were at every game they could have been. They really sacrificed a lot for it. I couldn’t have asked for more from them. I am truly blessed,” Evan continued.
Steinruck still has another year of eligibility but right now he hasn’t decided what he is going to do.
“I am still thinking about playing next year. If I don’t play I can graduate this year. Both punters are coming back but I am still weighing my options right now,” he explained.
Steinruck wants to encourage any young athlete to keep their dreams alive because you never know what opportunities may come your way – even when you think your time has passed.
“The most important info I can give them is start early. Whether you are in elementary school or middle school, get out there and practice,” he said.