Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m., Whittier College’s kicker/punter Eric Voss jogs onto the football field to join his team in what he describes as their “dress rehearsal” for their games on Saturday mornings. As the turf beads explode underneath him and lick his ankles, all his energy is put into the kick and his mind focuses solely on his job for the team: scoring as many points as possible, to clinch a potential win.
On Oct. 1, Voss set the record for the longest punt in school history at 77 yards. “It feels really cool because this is a very old program that has a lot of really, really solid years,” Voss said. “Although our record may not show it, there is a lot of tradition in this school and program. To have a little piece of that feels really cool and really special.”
Voss is a junior Business Administration major with a focus in management. He has played on the Whittier College football team as their kicker since he was a first-year. He is also a member of the Fellowship for Christian Athletes club on campus. Voss’ passion for football is inspired by his brother and by a knee injury that prevented him from playing college soccer.
As a senior in high school, Voss was scouted by Division I college teams, and offered a walk-on position for Michigan University’s football team. However, at Michigan, he wasn’t offered any scholarships and wouldn’t have priority to play.
With the influence of one of his coaches from high school, he chose Whittier College and accepted their offer to play as a Division III kicker. “One of the coaches at my high school, Zach Hanson, was doing some teaching through Whittier and talked to me a lot about the education I’d receive here,” Voss said. “He also [said] that it was a place where I could be a real student athlete; where I could devote most of my time to my academics and still have the ability to play football.”
Voss’ position as a kicker allows him to have a great influence over the outcome of the game because he can close the gap between Whittier and the opposing team. “There is very little I can control, but what I do influences the game a lot,” Voss said. “It’s a little piece that does a lot for the team.”
Voss is driven on the field by his love for his teammates and the comradery that the team possesses. “There are guys on the football team that I’ve become brothers with,” Voss said. “I haven’t been able to really see my brother because he is in Alaska with the army, but I still feel like I have a ton of brothers because I’m with these guys every day.”
Although the football team may not have a win for quite some time, Voss still has a desire for competition and faith in his team. “No matter if you win or lose, you are always competing,” Voss said. “The satisfaction of competing and knowing you did your best; that you have a bunch of guys fighting next to you, is a great feeling and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.”
Voss believes that the team and their program can recover with the support of current upperclassmen. “We’re in a rebuilding phase right now,” he said. “There are guys that are freshmen and sophomores that are playing right now, I’m a junior, so I have these last few games and one year left to reshape this program to make it a better program for the players that are there.” He hopes to leave the program with something that the current players can be proud of.
Voss emphasized the importance of acknowledging how hard his teammates work, in and out of season. He hopes that the community recognizes how much is put into playing and how hard they work. “The biggest thing is that the football team is one of the hardest working teams on campus,” Voss said. “The hours we put into football, and the length of the season. There’s no other team on campus that only plays nine games but has hours of preparation. There is a lot committed to it and every single guy on the football team works extremely hard.”