By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Since he was little, Travis Coulson has dreamed of playing college football.
After playing on the gridiron at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, he suffered a torn ACL injury while playing a pickup game of basketball and had to have knee surgery. This put his football career in doubt.
But now, Coulson, a 2003 Del Norte High School graduate, has overcome this obstacle and is fulfilling his dreams in Minnesota.
Coulson, a junior, is currently the starting punter at the University of Minnesota Crookston, a Division II football school.
The university, with enrollment of about 1,200 students is located in Northwestern Minnesota. Recently, he was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference special teams player of the week.
In the first game of the season, a win against Mayville State University, Coulson averaged 43-2 yards on five punts, including a 55-yarder and one inside the 20-yard line.
Last week, the Golden Eagles lost 20-15 to Southwest Minnesota State. Coulson said he had a few blocked punts in the contest and is quite determined to perform better when the team takes on Bemidji State University at home today.
"I want to be the best punter in the nation, Coulson said. "I just want to go out and do what I need to do fundamentally to be the best,"
At Del Norte High, Coulson was a multi sports star, playing football, basketball and baseball. On the gridiron, he played both linebacker, on the offensive line and was a kicker and punter. He was introduced to punting as a high school freshman by kicker Spencer Hoke, who asked him if he wanted to try kicking and punting.
After that he was hooked on this aspect of football and worked hard to perfect his skills, he said.
"I just like to kick the ball," Coulson said. "I can go out and kick for two hours just to relax."
After high school, Coulson continued his football career playing for College of the Redwoods for two years. But his dream of playing for a four-year college took a hit when while playing a pickup basketball game while back home in the summer in Crescent City, he tore his ACL and had to have knee surgery.
Coulson wondered if he would ever play football again.
After rehabilitating his knee, he received a phone call from a former teammate at CRR who was playing up at Crookston and told the staff about him.
The coaches saw film of Coulson punting and offered him a scholarship.
He accepted the offer and headed to Minnesota to enroll at the school last winter.
"I'm happy," Coulson said. "I don't know what I would have done if I couldn't have played football, or sports in general...Everything happens for a reason. It was meant to be that I can keep on playing."
Coulson said it has been an adjustment living in Crookston, a town of about 8,000. A big change has been the winters. Last winter, he said it got as cold as -22 degrees.
"It's been pretty good," Coulson said. " It's a lot different than being in Crescent City. It's kind of flat and there's not as many trees."
He said members of the Golden Eagle football team have also made him feel welcome in Minnesota.
"They are a great bunch of people," Coulson said. " It's like having another family. We're always doing stuff together."