By Yousof Hamza
On a warm September night, Colt McFadden lined up to kick the most important field goal of his career. Youngstown State University was down three points in the 2021 season opener against the University of the Incarnate Word with two seconds remaining in the game.
The 41-yard field goal was good.
Moments later, McFadden lined up to kick an even more important field goal. The 27-yarder was to win the game in overtime.
The kick was good.
“You approach it like any kick — it was just the preparation that our coaches have put me through, the challenging scenarios — they truly prepared me for moments like those,” McFadden said.
McFadden’s legacy did not begin there, though — his legacy began with his family. His father, Paul McFadden, was a kicker for Youngstown State in the 1980s, then he was drafted into the NFL and is a member of the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
His mom, Dianne Kosko, formerly known as Dianne Rappach, is also in the Hall of Fame. She was a standout women’s basketball player for YSU from 1988 to 1992 and holds the school’s 3-point record.
Colt is the second son to be a kicker for Youngstown State. His brother Connor also had a prolific college career. He now works as a geologist in Pittsburgh.
Colt felt destined to be a kicker. He grew up hearing the stories of his father and had the example of his brother growing up.
“I think if you’re a McFadden, you’re automatically a kicker by default,” he said.
McFadden did not start his career as a Penguin. He played two years of college football just down the road at Kent State University before transferring to Youngstown State in 2019.
The fifth-year senior initially wanted to try someplace new, but ended up returning to Youngstown.
“I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to come back home and represent Youngstown State, it’s truly one of the best decisions I have ever made,” McFadden said. “It’s ultimately a responsibility to uphold our family name.”
Part of being a football player is being a role model and community member. The football team engages in several community service events throughout the year, and McFadden sees these as essential duties.
“I think that is a very important aspect of being a student athlete — let alone a football player — here at YSU,” McFadden said. “It’s our responsibility to give back to this community, to do whatever we can because everyone says we’re role models. It’s part of our job.”
McFadden wants people to know it’s not just about raw physical size and talent. It’s about hard work and passion, and anyone can succeed if they put their mind to it.
“It comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice, how much you’re willing to give up to not only make yourself a great player on the field, but a great person off the field,” he said. “I think that truly ties everything together: you just have to work really hard and you have to love playing the game of football.”
Being a football player isn’t just throwing the ball or tackling other players, there are a diverse array of other talents and positions. McFadden is one of those with special talents, a kicker. It is a specialized position that only attracts attention when the game is on the line or they mess up consistently.
“It’s certainly a kind of different position when you look at the game of football. It’s one that I’ve learned to fall in love with. I really enjoy all of the challenges that come with being a place kicker,” McFadden said.
During the 2021 fall football season, McFadden went 8-9 for field goals and was an Missouri Valley Football Conference Honorable Mention. He will be returning for a sixth year in 2022 to attend graduate school.
McFadden believes he has grown tremendously through his long college career, especially since he returned to Youngstown.
“I’m truly just trying to enjoy these last two years and just enjoy the ride this has been and do everything I can to represent Youngstown and be the best player I can be,” he said.