No dream is too big for a St. Paul man who is bringing his kicking skills to the Pacific Northwest later this month.
KARE 11 reports that Ele Vang, 34, is heading to the NFL Regional Combine in Seattle on March 22 in the hopes of landing a job as an NFL kicker.
Vang told the station that he knows the odds are against him. In addition to his age, he's small for a player at 5 feet 6 inches tall.
"I'm not the biggest guy. I'm not the fastest guy. I'm not the strongest guy, but I think that with my hard work and determination I can go places with that, so I feel confident about that," Vang tells KARE.
Still, Vang, who emigrated to St. Paul from Laos, is going to pursue his dream of being one of the first Hmong-Americans to try out for the NFL. He's already one of the first Hmong-American high school football coaches in St. Paul.
"Hey, we only live once. Why not? You gotta try," Vang told KARE. "You gotta do it and tell yourself at least you tried it regardless of where it goes."
Vang says is hoping to land with the Vikings, but would be happy to play with any team.
The soccer player-turned-kicker will face some tough criteria in order to qualify for the NFL Regional Combine, which is reserved for players who did not participate in the National Scouting Combine.
The regional combines – which are held for position players and specialists at a variety of cities in February and March – are for free agents who have never signed a pro contract and free agents with some pro experience. Some of the regional participants will go on to the Super Regional Combine in Detroit April 12.
"NFL Regional Combines are not fantasy camps. Applicants must meet NFL eligibility rules and be able to perform at a high skill level," according to the league's combine site. "The NFL reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject any applicant it determines to be unqualified or unfit to compete."
See the NFL's set of eligibility rules for participating in a Regional Combine here.
No matter his odds, Highland Park coach David Zeitchick tells KARE that Vang is a superior athlete who can kick, punt and throw.
"Every time he kicks or punts, everyone is like, 'Who is that?'" Zeitchick says.
If by some chance Vang makes it as a kicker in the NFL, the 34-year-old won't be the oldest foot in the league. NBC Sports says Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is currently the oldest kicker – and player – in the NFL, at age 41.
Plus, it appears he will get to age in the NFL a bit longer. The Associated Press Tuesday reported that the Colts signed Vinatieri to a new, two-year contract.