It’s a long way from Hunters to Seinajoki

Football journey nears an end for KegelIt has been an interesting ride for this minister’s son and former small town and small college football star to the cusp of parenthood and the wild vagaries of European professional football.And no, we are not talking about the other futbol. So it goes for one of the best all-around athletes and football players to ever snap on a chin-strap for Columbia High School (Hunters).Dominic Kegel, better known as Dom to his friends and teammates, has traveled the country and around much of the globe already in his young life. The 6-2, 200-pound quarterback with the quick feet and strong arm is one of the few Class B-8 players from the backwoods of Northeast Washington to play college football.No, eight-man football doesn’t normally translate into a college football career, much less something beyond that. A star on a star-studded high school team at Columbia High (his Lions lost the championship game in the Gridiron Classic at the Tacoma Dome to eight-man power Lacrosse-Washtucna in his senior season), Kegel went on to tiny Greenville College, an NCAA D-III school near St. Louis, and made a mark as one of the best players in school history.But that wasn’t enough to satiate the deeply religious Kegel, who further honed his skills at an Oregon quarterback camp before tryouts with the NFL, CFL and Arena League.Today, he’s in Finland, playing quarterback for the Seinajoki Crocodiles, likely the only football team named after, well, a Finish crocodile. So what if you’ll never see a crocodile in Finland. It is what it is—a European hybrid of the American game. ‘The last couple of years, I had workouts in the NFL and CFL,” Kegel writes from his home in Finland. “Those didn’t work out…I decided to try the Arena Football scene. It was fun, but not quite the same.”During that time, Kegel was teaching post-college at a private school in Omaha, Nebraska (his wife Susan is stationed there in the Air Force).“This last year, I was offered a contract to a team in Finland,” Kegel writes. “It has been extremely fun for me.”There has been more on-field success, something Kegel has grown accustomed to in his football career. His Finish team was 9-1 and played host last Sunday to a “powerhouse team” from the capital in Helsinki.But there is more to life than football in far-away Finland.“Life is good, but I am almost positive this is my last season playing football,” Kegel says. “That’s sobering. It’s not because of any physical issues, but because I think my desire to play football doesn’t exceed my desire to be a good husband and a good father (the couple expects their first child in January).”A great deal has happened in Kegel’s young life since that successful chapter in Hunters. “I am thankful for every minute,” Kegel adds.While Kegel isn’t sure he’s worthy of the notoriety and all the attention, a fledgling video production company is filming a documentary of his nomadic football story. The company has filmed in Europe, Hunters, Omaha and Portland to date, according to Kegel.There are shoots planned in Colorado, Ohio and Chicago to put a wrap on the story.“They think my story is more interesting than I do,” Kegel quipped. “But it’s really cool what they’ve done.”The director of the independent documentary Better is a former teammate of Kegel’s, Jered Schneider. Schneider is enthusiastic about the project and thinks that Kegel’s story is more than worthy of the time, effort and financial wherewithal that has been spent to date.“Better is a documentary about what it means to be better in all aspects of life, told through football,” Schneider explained. “This is a full story of ups and downs, triumphs and heartbreaks…successes and failures…it’s a story that nearly everyone can relate with.”Schneider says Kegel “was and still is, one of the best athletes I have ever seen in my life. But his on-field performance was only half of what made Dom so interesting to me.”It’s not the football that got Schneider’s attention.“After years of constantly trying to be a better football player, Dom has come to the realization that there is more to improve in his life,” his friend Schneider says. “Battling unresolved issues in his life to become a better man, making a conscious effort every day to become a better husband…and something we learned during the making of this documentary…he will now need to focus on becoming a better father.”