Back in August, we wrote an article about Wisconsin’s freshman kicker Andrew Endicott and the cute thank you note he received from 6-year-old Badgers fan Ryan Ehlert after he spent the day shagging balls and meeting some of the players at Camp Randall. Earlier this week, Ryan’s mother, Kim, wrote to us to provide a follow-up to the story, along with some background on just how these two linked up. It turns out that the relationship, sparked by a “chance encounter”, has turned into a pretty special bond.
Kim thought it was important that, given the media’s obsession with covering athletes who constantly make the wrong decisions, someone tell the story about one who seems to do just the opposite. We couldn’t agree more.
Via Kim Ehlert:
This summer we were in Madison for a weekend in August. Ryan, his dad, and his grandpa went to Camp Randall on Saturday afternoon. They went to the Bucky’s Locker Room store at Camp Randall, to stock up on Badger gear while we were in town. Outside the store there is a patio area that is right next to the field. They went out on the patio to see the football field. Andrew just happened to be there that day, practicing by himself in between the two-a-day practices.
At one point he came over and started talking to Ryan, his dad, and his grandpa. They jokingly told Andrew that it looked like he needed someone to shag balls for him. Andrew enthusiastically agreed, and invited them to come on the field with him. So Andrew practiced kicking, and Ryan chased footballs all over the field for him. Ryan had a great time, shagging balls and running them into the end zone for touchdowns. When he was done practicing, Andrew invited them to come back to the locker room. It truly was a chance encounter, which has evolved into a very unique friendship.
As we wrote back in August, Endicott tweeted out a photo of the thank you note he received from Ehlert, with the phrase “This is probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me in a while.” Ehlert had also chosen to send along one of his minions from ‘Despicable Me 2’ as a good luck charm. Endicott said it made his day.
This is probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me in a while. Made my day!! pic.twitter.com/YJeWcUGvYi
— Andrew Endicott (@andyendicott) August 23, 2013
But that’s not where the story ends. Endicott, an 18-year-old college freshman balancing both academics and athletics, took the time to both write back to Ehlert…
…and set up another opportunity for the two to meet up:
Andrew wrote a letter back to Ryan, thanking him for sending the minion. He also sent a picture of his locker, with the minion and Ryan’s picture in it, and a Badger keychain with Ryan’s name. They continued to correspond occasionally via email. This past weekend they were able to meet again in Madison after the game against Northwestern.
Ryan got to go into the locker room, and was able to try on Andrew’s helmet and jersey. Andrew’s family was there as well; they were all excited to meet Ryan, as they believe he, and the minion, have truly brought Andrew good luck this season.
Here’s a photo of their second encounter, which Endicott tweeted out right after the Badgers’ win over Northwestern.
My buddy Ryan rockin my helmet after the win over Northwestern. Suited up and ready to go. pic.twitter.com/qgSKFY0I43
— Andrew Endicott (@andyendicott) October 16, 2013
It’s always refreshing to see professional/college athletes give back to their fans, but when one goes above and beyond what’s normally expected, it serves as an important reminder that life is about more than just wins and losses. This was no community service class requirement or team-sponsored field trip, it was simply an unselfish person using the fortunate situation he’s found himself in to bring joy to someone else.
This is a story about a good football player, and an even greater person. My husband, Dave, and I are so impressed by this young man. I can only hope that my son grows up to be as kind and thoughtful as Andrew. And if Ryan also wants to be a kicker for the Badgers…that’s okay, too!
If the two stick together, it looks like he just might have a shot.