Amazing feats with his feet

Indiana's Pete Stoyanovich kicks goals in both football and soccer
October 06, 1985

When Indiana's Pete Stoyanovich kicked a 36-yard field goal with 9:50 left in last Saturday's game at Missouri, it wasn't the big play of the afternoon. The 11-point underdog Hoosiers were ahead 26-10 and on their way to a 36-17 romp. But those three points meant a lot to the freshman, who earlier had missed field goals from 50 and 33 yards. "I should have had nine points, or at least six," said Stoyanovich, 18, who is from Dearborn Heights, Mich. "But I was kicking from my weaker hash—the right side." What Stoyanovich didn't say was that he also was a little fatigued.

The night before, in St. Louis' Busch Stadium, 127 miles east of the Missouri campus in Columbia, Stoyanovich had played striker for Indiana's soccer team in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis University. Afterward, he rushed back to his hotel, showered and changed and was taken to a waiting five-seat Cessna for the 40-minute flight to Columbia. He was then driven half an hour to the hotel where the Hoosier football team was billeted, and crashed into bed around 2 a.m.

So it was no surprise to Indiana football coach Bill Mallory when Stoyanovich was late for the team's 8:30 a.m. chapel service Saturday. "He looked a little tired last night," said Mallory, "so I let him sleep. But for a young kid, he's got a lot of poise. It takes a special person to do what we ask of him academically and in two sports."

Shortly after the Missouri game, Stoyanovich was on the road again. He took the team charter flight to Indianapolis, then caught another bus for the 47-mile trip to Bloomington. On Sunday afternoon it was another soccer game, this time against Southern Illinois at Edwardsville. He scored a goal in the Hoosiers' 3-2 win, giving him two wins, a field goal and a soccer goal for the weekend.

Stoyanovich got on his kicking kick early. "I started playing soccer when I was about four," he says. "When kids would come around and ask me if I wanted to play football or baseball, my father always said, 'No, you stay here and kick the ball with me.' "

Stoyanovich's father, Mike, 47, emigrated to the U.S. from Ljubojno. Yugoslavia with his family in 1953. A self-taught soccer player. Mike learned American football and kicked for Dearborn (Mich.) High School. He later played semipro soccer for two teams at the same time. Like father, like sons. "I always loved sports," Mike says. "My two boys and I would go to baseball, basketball, football and soccer games." Pete's younger brother, Billy, 14, is a kicker for Crestwood High, the same team for which Pete played as a defensive back and kicker.

Pete's feet gained national recognition when he was 12 years old and won the National Kick-Me Juggling contest in New Jersey. To win, he juggled a soccer ball on each foot and on his head for a longer period of time than the other contestants. In January 1984, Stoyanovich played for the U.S. Junior National soccer team that traveled to Leningrad for a five-game series against teams from the U.S.S.R, West Germany, France and Belgium. "Every time my name was called," says Stoyanovich, "the Russians cheered. I guess they thought I was Russian, because they didn't applaud any of the other players."

Stoyanovich was recruited heavily by colleges seeking him for their soccer programs. A few schools were also interested in him as a placekicker. Stoyanovich, however, was interested in playing both sports. Indiana soccer coach Jerry Yeagley helped Pete out of his dilemma. "When I told Coach Mallory I didn't think we'd get him on a soccer scholarship because he wanted to play football," Yeagley says, "Mallory agreed to give him a football scholarship." Stoyanovich asked both coaches to sign an agreement guaranteeing that he could play both sports at Indiana. They signed.

Juggling schedules has been no easy trick. The first major glitch came on Sept. 14 with Indiana's football opener against Louisville. Stoyanovich had to skip a Friday night soccer tournament at Duke because it would have been nearly impossible for him to get back for Saturday's game. But that football game proved to be a memorable one for both Stoyanovich and the Hoosiers. Indiana broke a 16-game losing streak by beating Louisville 41-28, and Stoyanovich kicked field goals of 38 and 25 yards.

The following week Stoyanovich scored two goals in Indiana's 4-0 rout of Ohio State on Friday at Bloomington. The next day, in the third quarter of the football game at home against Navy, he kicked a 41-yard field goal in Indiana's 38-35 victory. On Sunday he flew to South Bend and scored a goal in Indiana's 4-0 win over Notre Dame. This season, Stoyanovich's football team is 3-0, and his soccer team is 5-5.

When he's not thinking about football, soccer, grades and getting sleep, Stoyanovich contemplates his lost weekends. "Often, when I get back to my room on a Sunday night," he says, "I think, What am I doing? My weekends go by just like that. I don't understand why I'm doing this, but as time goes by I'm getting more and more used to it. And it's a good feeling to know I can handle it."

PHOTOJACQUELINE DUVOISINStoyanovich (10) used his head to advantage in the Hoosiers' win over Southern Illinois. PHOTOJACQUELINE DUVOISINAgainst Missouri, Pete added a 36-yard field goal to his team's five TDs.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)