Bryan Steinsapir and his younger brother Kyle watched NFL games on satellite in Santiago, Chile and became fans. They found information that an amateur league was being formed and showed up ready to play.
“I was 15 and my brother was 13,’’ Steinsapir said. “We played seven-person football and had three teams.’’
Three teams with seven players? What is the population of Santiago?
“Seven million,’’ Steinsapir said. “Not too many people in Chile pay attention to American football.
“We did grow the next year, though. There was a 19-under league, and we played nine-person games.’’
There was this problem, Steinsapir said: “We didn’t have gear to play. We had to wait for the senior players to finish. Then, we would put on their equipment and play. I played a lot of games in sweaty pads, sweaty pants.’’
Steinsapir was a receiver and kicker in Chile. He sent 50 e-mails to colleges in the United States, asking for a chance to join the football team. He then made further contact with the schools that responded.
“St. Thomas was the best; it’s where I wanted to be,’’ he said.
Steinsapir came to Minnesota in August 2014. He did some kicking in practice and was told to concentrate on that. He kicked in a couple of blowout wins in his first two season. When a couple of field goals were blocked in the St. John’s game last season, he was given a shot and became the kicker for field goals and extra points.
On Saturday, Steinsapir made two field goals in a game for the first time in the Tommies’ 20-17 victory over St. John’s. The winning points were the 43-yarder that he made in the third quarter off Target Field’s infield dirt.
“I watched videos of [Sebastian] Janikowski kicking off dirt in Oakland this week, to see how he did it,’’ Steinsapir said.
Saturday was special for reasons beyond the two field goals. Kyle, his football-loving brother, and the rest of the Steinsapir family had made the trip from Santiago see this game in a big-league ballpark.