MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “There was a good kicker who had an old shoe.” That’s how the old nursery rhyme goes, right?
Hutchinson’s football team has the chance to win its second straight state championship in a couple of weeks. You can imagine what many high school football players would give to be in their shoes, especially one shoe in particular.
“I guarantee you the shoe is older than all of the players on our team,” Hutchinson coach Andy Rostberg said.
“Pretty close to 20 years old,” said kicker and quarterback Marcus Hahn. “At least.”
This is the curious tale of the Hutchinson kicking shoe. Something enchanting, maybe even magical, like out of a fairy tale. As much fable as football.
“I wouldn’t want to lose it, that’s for sure,” former Hutchinson coach Jim Mills said.
The shoe came out of storage last year, when Hahn started kicking Hutchinson’s field goals and extra points.
“I don’t think anybody knows (exactly) how old it is,” Rostberg said. “It’s been in our shed for many years.”
“It’s pretty old, falling apart,” Hahn said. “We’ve got to tape it up and all that.”
Rostberg said it offers virtually no support.
“Kind of like putting a steel-toe stocking on, is what it’s like,” he said.
The hard, square toe is the key. Because not only is the shoe kicking it old school, so is Marcus’ kicking style — a throwback to a bygone era, when color TV was the newest fad and field goals were toe-bombed, straight on.
“I would always kick straight on, that’s all I ever learned,” Hahn said. “I’ve tried soccer style before, just so I didn’t have to change the shoe and stuff, but couldn’t do it.”
It looks and feels like a normal shoe. But it’s been anything but.
First of all, “it’s probably the same shoe that we used years ago when we were involved and won the ’83 and ’84 championships,” Mill said.
So, go figure, when it came out of storage last year, Hutchinson won it all again. And then in this year’s season opener? Becker took the Tigers to overtime for more heroics.
“And we won it on a field goal that shoe,” Mills said. “So it’s been good luck.”
So much so that Marcus changes into it every time he needs to kick. Which has made things pretty interesting now that he’s also the team’s starting quarterback this year.
“We actually practice (changing shoes in between touchdowns and point-after attempts) in practice a lot before,” Hahn said. “The holder used to never run it out to me, I’d have to go to the sidelines, but that always got delay of game and stuff. So now he runs it out to me, I chuck my other shoe, and away we go.”
All before the play clock expires. It’s like a NASCAR pit crew every PAT.
“Yeah,” Hahn says with a laugh, “I’ve gotten pretty good at tying shoes.”
Superstition, or supernatural? Regardless, there’s just something special about this old Spot-Bilt.
“We got Marcus a brand new kicking shoe this year,” Rostberg said. “A nice shiny black one. And he put it on, and tried it a few times. And tossed it in a corner and went back and grabbed the old one.”
The old one which, keep in mind, isn’t even his. It’s been property of the Hutchinson football team longer than he’s been alive. And just so happens to fit perfectly.
“I don’t even know what size it is,” Hahn said. “Maybe 12? Somewhere around there. That’s what my foot is.”
Kind of like that one girl with the glass slipper. There’s something almost mythical about it.
“I guess you could say that,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe fate?”
Hutchinson’s chance at “Happily Ever After” comes the day after Thanksgiving, at the Metrodome. They’ll play Holy Angels, which has a bit of a Cinderella story of its own — getting to the title game after a 3-5 regular season.