Montana State University

MSU football player thrives on participating in campus activities

November 20, 2008 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News

MSU student Eric Fisher, who was recently named MSU's Homecoming king, is a football standout and hopes one day to teach and coach kids himself. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Montana State University student Eric Fisher gets a kick out of working with children. That's somehow fitting for Fisher, MSU's punter who has found a way to combine his love of sports with his desire to teach students.

Many Bobcat fans may know Fisher as the punter who recently earned All Big Sky Conference for punts averaging 43.3 yards and 16 pins inside the 20-yard line. He's also been named Big Sky player of the week once this season and twice last season. Less known is that the standout football player from Billings and health enhancement major has worked with kids at MSU sports camps and in their physical education classes, and he said the feedback from the kids themselves makes the time and effort worth it.

"Some of the kids in my groups have come up after watching my games and given me hugs," said Fisher, who hopes to be a teacher. "Teachers don't get paid a lot, but getting the reward of a big smile on a kid's face is worth a lot more than a few dollars."

Fisher initially decided to enroll at MSU because of the school's well-respected engineering department, he said. But before long, Fisher switched to a major in health enhancement through MSU's College of Education, Health and Human Development.

"Education is kind of the family business," said Fisher, who grew up in Billings and whose parents taught there. "I found out that I really liked it, too."

Fisher, who boasts a 3.35 grade point average, praised the faculty members in the College of Education, Health and Human Development for their commitment to students and for their skills in the classroom.

In turn, several of Fisher's professors praised his dedication and hard work.

Fisher "is an outstanding student who is very engaged in his teaching major and who will be an excellent health enhancement teacher and role model to his students," said Nancy Colton, a professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Development.

"Eric works very hard in the classroom and is always prepared and eager to learn," Colton added. "He handles all of this with a huge smile on his face and with boundless energy."

Lynn Owens, another one of Fisher's professors, agreed.

"From my perspective as a teacher educator, it is evident that Eric has all of the qualities required to be a great teacher and coach," Owens said. "He cares in such a way that he will certainly be one of those who is able to make a significant difference in the lives of others. The greatest compliment that I can pay him is that I would want him to be my grandchildren's teacher."

Outside of class, Fisher devotes much of his time to football.

Football "usually takes precedence over anything else, except class," he said, but he added that he views football as more fun than work.

"I already have a job at the Ask-Us desk," Fisher said, laughing.

Fisher got into punting for his team in high school through being a kicker. Since there was no punter, he said he got "thrown" into it.

"But I developed more of a passion for punting and I enjoy it more now," Fisher said.

In fact, it was Fisher who first initiated contact with MSU about playing for the team, according to Bill Lamberty, MSU's assistant athletic director.

"Eric actually recruited us," Lamberty said. "After he said he wanted to come here, (former) Coach (Mike) Kramer started looking into him and discovered he was the best punter in the state."

Though he enjoys the challenges of playing with the team, being the punter can be stressful, Fisher admitted. The best way to approach the stress, he said, is to try to stay relaxed and focus on the technique.

"Getting a kick blocked is tough," Fisher said. "Usually it is caused by lack of technique by me as the punter. It is one of those things you just have to forget and move on to the next kick."

Fisher said he has made a ton of good friends on the team, and he appreciates how supportive people in the community and on campus are of the players.

Knowing that kids in the community watch his games has made an impression on Fisher, too.

"I'd like to be a good model for kids to go off of," he said. "Knowing that kids are looking up to me makes me hold myself one more step accountable."

Fisher was recently named MSU's Homecoming king in a ceremony at halftime during MSU's game versus Weber State.

It was an honor, Fisher said, but it would have been "sweeter" if the game itself had turned out differently.

"It was a bittersweet feeling with the whole Homecoming thing," Fisher said. "It would have felt better if we had won, too."

In addition to his studies and playing for the football team, Fisher has served as an orientation leader and is an ASMSU student senator.

In fact, one of Fisher's coaches said Fisher's involvement with a variety of campus activities is part of what makes him stand out.

"He's more than just a football player and a student," said John Wozniak, MSU's special teams coach. "Eric gets involved with so much, and he works hard at what he does."

For his part, Fisher said it's rewarding to be involved with so many different activities, and being involved in a variety of things on campus is great because it has helped him meet lots of people.

The orientation leader position, in particular, helped convince Fisher to get involved in other things, too.

He's happy to serve as a liaison between MSU students and the administration through his work with ASMSU, and he said he's proud of what has been accomplished recently through the student senate.

For example, three different student fees have passed during his time with ASMSU, which will help fund the fitness center, a recycling program on campus and student activities.

"It's nice students want to pay for improving the campus a little bit," Fisher said.

Since Fisher's many activities each require so much time and attention, time management is essential, Fisher said.

"I write things down so I know where I have to be when," Fisher said. "I prioritize what free time I have to get things done in the best way. Then if there's any time left, I'll go do something fun or maybe even get some sleep. As long as I stay on top of things, it does not get stressful. I am usually pretty laid back and do not allow myself to stress about things."

With another year left at MSU, Fisher expects to continue to stay busy with classes, football, and his work with ASMSU and orientation. While he said he's looking forward to his final year at MSU, he's also excited for the start of his career.

He'd like to find a teaching job in the region and hopes his coaching minor will help him land a position where he can also coach soccer and track, sports he also played in Billings.

"It's going to be fun to start teaching," Fisher said. "And I can't wait to coach."

Eric Fisher,