A Starr in the Sunshine State

    Go Hoosiers! Austin Starr is off to Orlando Wednesday afternoon in prepartion for The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Austin Starr is off to Orlando Wednesday afternoon in prepartion for The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Dec. 4, 2007

    Junior kicker Austin Starr is a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top place-kicker. As a finalist, Starr earned a week in the Florida sun. He headed to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Sunday to participate in activities with the Lou Groza Award Committee and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. On Wednesday, he will travel to Orlando in preparation for The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards. Starr will find out if he is the next Lou Groza Award winner on the live telecast Thursday, Dec. 6, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.

    During his journey in the Sunshine State, Starr will check in with to update Hoosier fans daily. Here is Starr's second installment recapping Monday and Tuesday's events:

    Monday morning was an early wake-up at 6 a.m. I needed to be downstairs in the lobby with the other kickers to go golfing. The van left at 7 a.m. and I had no idea what golf course they were taking us to play. To my amazement they dropped us off at the PGA National Golf Course where they play the Honda Classic. Now I had only golfed at par 3 golf courses in Indiana, so I didn't know what to expect when playing on one of many difficult courses at this location. I probably lost 30 golf balls after 18 holes. There was water on every hole and I hit multiple houses, but there were still many accomplishments. One of them being I didn't break any of the rental golf clubs, especially the graphite drivers. I maintained professional composure through good shots and bad, and the highlight of the experience was using a putter in the rough 75 feet away from the hole and making the shot. The ball nailed the pin, shot three feet into the air and dropped straight down into the hole. Thankfully there was a cameraman following us around, so I have proof.

    We left the course around 1 p.m. and put on a kicking clinic over at Cardinal Newman High School, which is in West Palm Beach. Coach Budnyk was glad to have us there and help kickers from nearby high schools with their mechanics and technique. We didn't have to kick, but I had been looking forward to this event since I received my itinerary and I wanted to show people what I could do. There were three different television stations from the county along with reporters and other coaches at this clinic. I started with field goals, then kicked off, and did some onside kicks at the end. Most kids quit kicking and just started watching. I stopped for a bit and talked to the reporters about the story of our team and how we've come together to make this season memorable as we honor our late Coach Terry Hoeppner. They love our team and love the story of how remarkable it was for us to overcome adversity and achieve our goal to `Play 13.'



    That night we went to dinner at The Breakers, which is a five-star hotel. I've never been to a five-star, but let's just say every hotel I go to now will be insignificant. I took a lot of pictures and hope to get those uploaded sometime this week. The Christmas decorations were a nice touch as well and it was weird to be in 70-degree weather while looking at lit up Christmas trees. The back of the hotel has one of the most unbelievable views I have ever seen in my entire life. This hotel sits right on the beach next to the Atlantic Ocean with light illuminating the water and creating a surreal atmosphere. With the wind in your face, smell of salt water, sound of crashing waves, and sight of lit up blue water, I didn't want to go back inside. It was a great way to end the night.

    We left at 9:30 a.m. to go to the Children's Hospital at St. Mary's Medical Center. This is the newest medical facility in Palm Beach County catering to the critical care needs of children. Indiana was kind enough to organize bags full of gifts such as senior player cards, a media guide, pencils, stickers and an IU cup. The kids loved the gifts and I know we not only made their day but probably their week. The experience helped me further realize that there is a bigger picture to life than just football. Good health, a supporting family, and enjoying the gift of life itself are all blessings anyone should be thankful for and reflect on daily. I had so many IU bags and gifts that I started giving them out to nurses and doctors. The attention around Indiana University Athletics is growing by the day.

    We had the afternoon off and I got a lot of schoolwork done along with typing about my experiences here in Florida. Tonight was the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Banquet. It was here at the hotel and I wore a tuxedo. I'll be sure to put those pictures up. The function was to honor the three finalists along with the best high school kickers and coaches in Palm Beach County. The people here are extremely kind and sincere. They treated me with incredible respect and I couldn't be more honored to be a finalist for this award. We will know Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Orlando.


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