(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA — 2018 was a good year for Montana kicker Tim Semenza.
After struggling to find his rhythm in 2017, he bounced back to reclaim the starting job for the Grizzlies in his redshirt-junior season. He proceeded to make the third-most field goals-per-game in the Big Sky Conference, averaging 1.18 per-contest by going 13 for 17. He led the team in scoring with 79 points and earned UM’s special teams player of the week nomination on three different occasions.
His 2018 average boosted his career field goal percentage to 77.14, the second-best career average in Montana history (behind Dan Sullivan’s 77.5 career percentage), cementing his place among some of the great UM kickers of all time with one year of eligibility remaining.
The future is bright for Semenza, but it won’t be on the football field.
In May, Semenza will graduate from the University of Montana with a Management Information Systems (MIS) degree from the College of Business as a three-time Academic All-Big Sky performer, boasting a 3.37 GPA and recent induction into the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society on his resume.
But instead of staying in Missoula for another season, he’ll hang up his cleats and turn his success on the field and in the classroom into his dream job.
In August, Semenza will officially begin his new career as an implementation consultant with Fast Enterprises, a global software and consulting company based in Denver that develops IT platforms for government contractors around the world.
“I went and took an interview just to gain some experience and realized I really love the company, love the culture, and knew I would be a really good fit there,” says Semenza.
“Coming out of the MIS program with this job is something I never imagined I’d be able to do. I’m really fortunate to be able to have this opportunity. It’s definitely a dream job.”
But while he gains a lucrative new career the Grizzlies lose one of their best-ever kickers.
While he admits accepting his dream job over football was a tough choice to make, ultimately, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. And knowing there is more to life after football, head coach Bobby Hauck agreed with him.
“I have a real appreciation for Tim. He’s a guy who resurrected his playing career and had a great season last fall. He’s a competitive guy, which I admire. He’s taking a great job that he’s always wanted, and I know he’s going to be a success,” said Hauck.
Often times when a player retires early, it’s because of injury or other unfortunate circumstances. Quite the opposite for Semenza.
Instead of playing one final season he’ll now embark on a stable career that could take him around the world, and he credits his time at Montana for putting him a position to get there.
“I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Grizzly football. I’ve loved playing in Missoula, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. It set me on my future” says Semenza.
“I had my ups and downs, but every moment was some of the best of my life, and I’ll never forget it.”
Semenza finds out in June where he’ll be stationed for his first project with Fast Enterprises when he starts in August, with the company keeping its employees in one place for 2-5 years. When asked for his top three preferred locations, he said Massachusetts (near his extended family in upstate New York), New Mexico, or Utah.
He says there’s no guarantee where he’ll wind up, but wherever that may be, there is one thing he knows: “I’ve really loved Missoula, and I’d like to find a place like this if I can.”
Semenza isn’t leaving the Griz high and dry, however. Despite losing one of the top kickers in program history, the 2019 Grizzlies have plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
Vying for the starting job during spring ball are Missoula native Gabe Peppenger, a junior who transferred from Montana State last fall, and Brandon Purdy, who has returned to full strength after suffering an injury in 2018.
Purdy has already seen more success than most as a third-team All-Big Sky kicker in 2017. He was the statistically the best field goal kicker in the league that season, going 15-for-17 and accumulating the third-most points in the conference (89) to earn an All-America honorable mention from HERO Sports.
Both will see action for the Griz at Saturday’s spring game in Kalispell, scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. at Legends Stadium, with a pregame tailgate set for the Korner Shop at 11 a.m.