For Goessel?s Weston Hiebert, the challenges of being a walk-on for Kansas State University and legendary coach Bill Snyder wasn?t going to keep him from pursuing his dream of playing major college football.
Hiebert lettered four years for the Goessel Bluebirds under head coach Justin Coup. Now sophomore walk-on at KSU, Hiebert was a three-time all-league linebacker/tight end and a first team all-state linebacker in 2008 and 2009.
Hiebert helped lead the Bluebirds to four league and district championships as well as two bi-district championships.
A phone call from K-State?s longest tenured assistant, defensive line coach Mo Latimore, to Coup provided Hiebert his unique opportunity.
?Coach Latimore called my coach and came and talked to me a couple times, and they said they were wanting me to walk on,? Hiebert said. ?I definitely did some thinking on it, but with following K-State all through my childhood, I felt it was an opportunity I couldn?t pass up.?
Sitting down and talking with Coach Snyder on his visit to the campus gave Hiebert a glimpse into what he could look forward to in a Wildcat football career.
?I sat down and talked to him for a little bit and we really talked a lot about school,? Hiebert said. ?It really actually made me more comfortable around him because it wasn?t all about football. He made feel like he cared about you as a person, which he does. He?s a great coach and cares a lot about his players.?
After making the decision and stepping foot on K-State?s campus for fall practices in 2010, Hiebert said he was nervous at first but his new teammates helped ease the transition.
?When I showed up, the football team itself was bigger than my entire high school,? Hiebert said. ?All the guys are great and academics do a great job in getting you set up.?
Getting to step onto the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, as well as playing at Cowboys Stadium for the Cotton Bowl last season, gave Hiebert the opportunity to experience two notable venues.
?Running out that first game at home definitely was a big shock,? Hiebert said. ?Last year at the Cotton Bowl, that stadium was absolutely crazy and there were a lot of people there.?
During the purple/white spring game last April, the team was generating a buzz as the Wildcats had several key players returning.
The coaches decided to reverse the 35-0 halftime score and have their starters play from behind in the second half.
After coming back to tie the game at 42, the purple team drove the ball deep into its opposition?s territory with the chance to take the ?victory.?
But Hiebert stepped in front of Heisman trophy candidate Collin Klein?s pass and snagged the interception, forcing the game to end in a 42-42 tie.
That experience is something that Hiebert hopes he can build on moving forward.
?It was really good,? Hiebert said. ?I put a lot of time in working and finally getting a break was a good feeling. I just worked at being in the right place at the right time. We put in a lot of work and the coaches put us in a good position.?
Hiebert started this season on the second team special-teams unit and added two solo tackles in Kansas State?s season-opening 51-9 victory over Missouri State on Saturday.
The sophomore is looking to build upon his early success and continue to create his page in the history of Kansas State football.
?I?ve just got to keep getting better,? Hiebert said. ?It?ll be important for me to come in and watch film and just keep improving.?
As the stadium name says, Kansas State prides itself on providing not only its players with a family atmosphere, but the entire university community.
?It?s great,? Hiebert said. ?You hear it a lot, but it really is a family atmosphere. There are a lot of players that leave and come back and talk with us. They stay involved and it?s great being apart of Coach Snyder?s legacy.?
Adam Suderman is a Hillsboro High School alum and currently a student at Kansas State, where he writes for the student newspaper and is campus stringer for ESPN.