January 5, 2007
Leesburg - Many parents travel the far reaches of the earth to watch their children perform in sporting events.
Few of them get to watch their son or daughter play for a national championship.
But that is just what Randy and Donna Hetland will be doing Monday night when their son Chris will kick for the Florida Gators in their national championship game against Ohio State.
A game that will be the last in their son's collegiate career.
Randy Hetland said "It is exciting. Nerve wracking but exciting."
That is what is like for the parents of a field goal kicker.
Over the last four years, Randy and Donna Hetland have traveled across the Southeastern Conference to watch their son Chris kick for the Florida Gators.
Randy Hetland said "We haven't missed a game that he has played in. And we have only missed one that he traveled to."
A walk-on at Florida, Chris Hetland became the Gators field goal kicker in 2005 where his season was so good he earned all-conference honors and a scholarship.
His senior season has been the exact opposite with just four field goals in 13 attempts.
The misses have probably frustrated Randy Hetland the most since he was Chris' first kicking coach.
Hetland said "I know his stats aren't as good as what they have been in previous years but his actual kicking is probably better than it has ever been."
Chris Hetland has not let his slump keep him down. He has kept his starting job each week in practice. And his father believes this season has taught his son some very valuable lessons.
Randy Hetland said "I got to tell you I cannot be more proud of him. I think he has grown into a man and I am in his corner."
Of course there is a chance that Florida's national championship hopes will rest on the foot of Randy Hetland's son.
Randy Hetland said "At that point and time there is nothing any of us can do about it. It is either all going to fall together or it isn't."
And so far everything has fallen together for former walk-on who will close out his college career by playing in the biggest game of the season.
Randy Hetland said "What a blessing for Chris to decide in the 9th grade and now he is kicking in the national championship game not many people get to do that."
The Hetlands and all of the Gator nation hope Florida will beat the Buckeyes to win the national championship.