Golf to gridiron

Steamboat senior makes smooth transition

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Tucker Campbell suits up for football practice on Wednesday. The transition from the golf course to the football field was as easy as changing from his golf shoes to his football cleats.

— Some high school athletes work four years and never have the privilege of making it to a state championship.

Some are lucky enough to make it once. And some, like Steamboat Springs senior Tucker Campbell, make a habit of it.

For the past two years Campbell has made it to state in two sports during the fall season. He has been a stalwart on the varsity golf team that earned sixth at the state tournament in early October. He also has been a key member of the Sailors football team that opens the playoffs on Saturday at home against Fort Lupton.

"It's just an opportunity that (football) coach (Aaron) Finch gives me to play two sports in one season," Campbell said. "It's definitely something I'll never forget."

Finch said it's nice to add a player like Campbell to the offensive and defensive lines late in the season. Whether it's allowing another player to focus on one position, or filling in for an injured player, Finch said Campbell's presence adds depth and helps the Sailors.

"He's a good football player and a good golfer," Finch said. "He's so smart on the field and in the classroom. He's just a great player to have on the team."

Campbell has been playing golf and football since middle school. When he got to high school, he said he couldn't just choose one. Because golf has a season that ends early, Campbell said he knew could get in the nine practices it takes to be eligible to play in football games. This year, the state golf tournament ended on a Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Campbell was on the football field.

"It was kind of harder that first day, switching your train of thought from state golf to the football field," Campbell said. "The mental aspect of golf carries over, but in golf you have to relax. In football you're trying to hit people."

Campbell saw his field time against Glenwood Springs. Each week since, Campbell has seen more and more action. Against Rifle, he recorded his first tackle of the year and against Battle Mountain, he got another tackle and played on the offensive line, helped produce more than 400 yards on the ground.

"Coming back into football in the middle of the year is the hardest part," Campbell said. "For everybody else, it's the middle of the season. I'm just starting to feel like I'm getting back into it."

During the summer, Campbell said he mainly focused on golf, but was able to attend a team football camp at Mesa State. Despite coming to a team five weeks into the season, he said the transition has gone smoothly. Campbell has played football with many players on the team since they were young. Finch said Campbell's easy-going personality also helps.

"His teammates love him," Finch said. "Sometimes, when a guy comes in late in a season, you'd expect guys to not accept him. That hasn't ever been part of the process."

With the football playoffs ready to start, and high expectations of the Sailors, Campbell said he's happy to contribute in any way possible.

"It's fun to be with these guys," he said. "To be able to be here and play with these guys is the best part. It's just a bonus to be on a good team."

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