For Willie McGowan, Friday night's football game between Fort Dodge and Ames was a memorable experience - both for himself, and many of the fans in attendance.
At the intermission of the Dodgers' entertaining 30-28 victory over their CIML Iowa Conference rival Little Cyclones, McGowan provided some fireworks of his own. He was selected to participate in the Kingsgate Insurance "Kick for Cash" contest, sponsored by First Federal Savings Bank of Iowa and West Bend Mutual Insurance Company.
What came next stunned even McGowan.
"I honestly had never kicked a football before," said McGowan, who coaches both the Fort Dodge girls and Iowa Central women's soccer programs, along with serving as a Student Development Assistant in the Admissions Department at ICCC. "I played rugby back home (in Scotland), but the ball is much bigger and wider and completely different."
McGowan lined up on the Dodger Stadium turf for a 40-yard field goal attempt to win $10,000.
"All I was really thinking about was kicking the skin off it," McGowan said. "I didn't want it to be one of those that was on target and came up short."
To his own surprise, McGowan drilled the ball well inside the right upright, clearing the unforgettable kick by at least 10 yards.
"The crowd was supporting me and really gave me a 'kick' of energy," said McGowan, who was also a two-time all-region performer for the Tritons during his soccer playing days. "I fed off their enthusiasm - especially that of my high school kids in the stands.
"The stadium completely erupted when the ball went through the posts. It stayed true and didn't really skip a beat. All I remember seeing was the ball going through the uprights, and once it went through, I just dropped to my knees and shook a man's hand. Then, I celebrated for a while and walked off the field."
As for plans on what to do with the windfall, McGowan is still undecided.
"I'm thinking about doing something with my kids - like a nice vacation," McGowan said. "I'll probably donate some to charities as well."
McGowan and his wife, Jamie, live with their two children in Fort Dodge.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org