Game Day pop quiz with Texas A&M bettor Nik Constantinou | Soccer
Junior Texas A&M punter Nik Constantinou knew nothing about American football when he joined the Prokick Academy in his home country of Australia, but the academy’s instructors took his knowledge of Aussie Rules football and tweaked it. converted to NCAA Division I punter. Constantinou sat down with Eagle sportswriter Travis L. Brown to take the Game Day pop quiz this week:
Q: How does an Australian land in College Station, Texas?
A: Honestly, I don’t even know the answer to that question. I joined this program called Prokick Academy. … They kind of introduced me to college football, told me everything that comes with it, and made me grow to love the sport. Thanks to that, I eventually got to A&M, which I was lucky, and the rest is history from there.
Q: Did you grow up playing Australian rules football?
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A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: What parts of this game translate easily to being a bettor in American football?
A: Not too much, because the striking technique is very different. But saying that, with college football, the punts that you now see from many punters come from Australian rules football, because we’re on the run when we kick. So having the ability to change the punt style for college has been a really big plus for the game, and it really fools a lot of opponents because they don’t know what type of punt is coming out. This style of punting really came into play.
Q: You were part of the physical aspect of the game.n Australian Rules Football. How was it and what position did you play?
A: There are attackers, midfielders and defenders. I was a striker, which means my main role was to score goals in Australian rules football. It’s more of a thing where you’re always on the pitch. You’re not just going out for a punt and backing off. It’s more physical. It is more demanding on the cardiovascular level. That’s the main difference is I’m always on [the field] trying to score goals for my team and succeeding that way.
Q: Do you remember your favorite goal?
A: Probably one of the favorites, I would say, was in a Grand Finals, which is the equivalent of a playoff or Super Bowl. One of the goals of the Grand Finals was to seal the victory. … It was my best memory of [scoring a goal].
Q: Did you play American football while at Kicking Academy?
A: I haven’t played any American football. I didn’t even know what a bettor was when I joined the program. It was very raw, but they basically teach you in every possible aspect that goes with it. We obviously can’t replicate 100,000 people in a stadium, but we can replicate the headsets, pads and get the crowd noise through the speakers. But they try to teach you every facet of the game.
Q: How many people on the A&M campus just want to hear your accent?
A: A lot. That’s exactly what they say: Talk to me. I don’t know what to tell them. Half the time no one can understand me because I pronounce the words differently.