Senior Feature: Stephen Shagen embraces unique journey to play Division I college football

PARK CITY, Utah. — With the conclusion of the 2022 school year, the graduating class of seniors is preparing to advance to the next stage of their lives, and for many, that will include working towards a college degree. For some, including Park City High’s Stephen Shagen, he will continue his duties as a student athlete at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota as the Tomcat’s football kicker.

Unlike many, Shagen’s story is unique as he just began playing football this last year. Having mostly played soccer, Shagen decided to kick for the football team during his senior year, which he acclimated to rather quickly and was able to secure a college offer just after one year of playing high school football.

“It meant a lot to me. That actually helped me get into a better school. So, that’s a blessing that I received. I actually just started playing football this season. I’ve played soccer my whole life so I never expected to play football, let alone play football in college. So it’s been a huge benefit for me and going forward in my life. The school that I’m going into is really great so I’m super excited,” Shagen said.

In his first and only season as a kicker, Shagen connected on 8 of 10 field goals and was a perfect 30-30 on PAT’s. As demonstrated in his performance, Shagen feels power and accuracy are his greatest strengths and are a major part of what helped him secure an offer from St. Thomas. He also mentioned that while kicking is his forte,  he is looking to make punting a part of his skill-set.

“I feel like I can really hit the ball and I think that that’s a huge benefit for kickoffs, especially getting kicking touchbacks and such,” Shagen explained. “Also, I feel like I’m pretty accurate. I only missed two field goals this season. So I’d have about 13 field goals and I didn’t miss a PAT so I feel like I’m also pretty accurate…I’ve been trying to learn how to punt because that’s also a good thing to know. So I’ve been trying to learn how to punt but I’ve been a kicker, primarily just kick offs and field goals.”

As for the program Shagen will be joining, the St. Thomas Tomcats are a Division I Program in the Pioneer Football League which consists of schools such as Butler, Davidson and Drake among others. In 2021, St. Thomas went 7-3 overall with a 6-2 conference record.

In addition to being one of the better teams in the conference, Shagen has been really impressed with the program thus far, especially the coaching staff, facilities and his future teammates.

Park City High’s Stephen Shagen will continue his duties as a student athlete at the University of St. Thomas as the Tomcat’s football kicker.
Park City High’s Stephen Shagen will continue his duties as a student athlete at the University of St. Thomas as the Tomcat’s football kicker. Photo: Stephen Shagen.

“Yeah, so I had sent out a lot of emails to a lot of different schools, just searching for interest and St. Thomas was one of the first schools that reached out. So I took that and I went to visit the school and the coaches took me in. I really loved the coaches there, the campus, and all the players so that’s what influenced my decision to go to St. Thomas,” he said.

Before Shagen makes his way to Minnesota for fall camp, he’ll be finishing his senior soccer season and enjoying his final days as a high school student. Once he becomes a Tomcat however, Shagen will embrace his unique path to college football and always make sure to bring energy and enthusiasm to the field.

“It’s pretty unique to get college offers after the first year of playing. I feel like that’s pretty hard to do. I also feel like I’m pretty energetic. Kickers get a stereotype that they’re pretty weird people but I’m pretty outgoing. I’m willing to hype the crowd up … I’m not just the guy that kicks the football,” he said.

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