Norwegian foreign exchange student finds footing as Hatchet kicker

William Tombs breaks THS record set in 1960

By Sarah Greil

TOMAHAWK – How does one go from playing soccer to being a star football kicker overnight?

For high school senior William Tombs, it seemed to come easy. He just needed to find his place on the team.

William is from Søm, Norway, just outside of Kirstiansand, the fifth-largest city in Norway, where he lives with his parents and sister. He decided to go into the foreign exchange program because he was bored with his school back home and wanted a challenge, to go outside his comfort zone.

He chose to study in the United States, but was placed in Tomahawk by the foreign exchange committee.

William is living with Scott and Jackie Fischer in Tomahawk. He says it’s a good way for him to experience the difference between family life in Norway and in the United States.

William has been in the United States for about five weeks. When he arrived, he stayed at a camp for exchange students in New York for ten days before coming to Tomahawk.

Back home in Norway, William played soccer, so he was disappointed to find that Tomahawk didn’t have a soccer program. He decided to give football a try. He said football would also be a good way to get to know people before school starts.

Tomahawk’s head coach, Sam Hernandez, said William joked with him that when he signed up for football, he thought he was signing up for soccer, because in Norway, soccer is called football.

William said the first few days of practice were difficult because “football language is a lot of new words, new coaches, new ball. Everything is different.”

But after discussing with his coaches how he could best benefit the team, it was discovered that he was a natural kicker.

After some coaching in technique, William tested his limits in practice. He was kicking field goals from as far as the 50-yard line, which Coach Hernandez said is pretty incredible for a high school student.

Friday, Aug. 19 was William’s first American football game, and the Tomahawk Hatchets ultimately beat the Rhinelander Hodags 27-13. William contributed by kicking three extra points and two field goals from 29 and 38 yards.

After the game, Terry Timm, who has been following Tomahawk football for a long time, pointed out that William had kicked more field goals in one day than any other Tomahawk kicker since at least 1960.

William was happy with how he played his first game. He says he doesn’t want to sound cocky, but it was no big deal to kick the ball through the goal because he’s played soccer for the past ten years; it’s something he knows really well.

“I was confident, of course, because of my teammates,” he said. “They made me confident because I know I can do this.”

After the game, William told Coach Hernandez, “Coach, American football is crazy, but it’s so fun!”

He also said this about his first football experience, “I got to see the American spirit, the people’s spirit, the cheerleaders. It was kind of like the movies.”

“He’s a great addition to our team,” Coach Hernandez said. “The kids really like him. He’s great to have in the locker room and his personality is awesome.”

In his spare time, William likes to go to the Fit Factory. Inspired by his teammates to work out, he said, “I get a little bit humbled when I see these guys. Everyone is so big and strong.”

He also likes to play basketball to prepare for the winter sport, listen to music and go fishing with his host family.

William doesn’t have any definite plans for after high school. He says college doesn’t seem like the thing for him right now. He wants to experience as much as he can in his younger days.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “I always do.”

Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his time learning American football better and getting to know other students before school begins.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Greil.

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