Nashua Silver Knights fans get their kicks with Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski
NASHUA – Surrounded by fans holding out footballs, baseball, pictures, football cards and kicking tees, Stephen Gostkowski is relaxed.
It’s just another summer night at Holman Stadium for the New England Patriots kicker. He’s been here before. He enjoys the fans, the overall atmosphere and the chance to get back on a baseball field.
The former University of Memphis football and baseball player took some batting practice hacks against Nashua Silver Knights manager Ted Currle, even sending a shot over the left field wall. For Gostkowski, this is vacation.
“Just getting ready for the season,’’ he said. “I think when you play for the Patriots, I think the No. 1 thing is to be ready all the time. So my job is to stay in shape and stay accurate, and be ready to go once training camp starts.”
Until then it’s stops like Saturday’s at Holman Stadium that keep him motivated, especially after winning his first Super Bowl as a player.
“It’s cool, the amount of support and fans that we have, especially after we win is awesome,” Gostkowski said. “And everyone is super excited about the game, especially the way it ended.
“Until the season starts, and until we probably start getting yelled at for talking about the Super Bowl too much, it’s always good to revisit it. We get our rings tomorrow night, so it’s a pretty special weekend.”
It was special for those in attendance Saturday night, including the players, as Silver Knights and Torrington (Conn.) Titans surrounded the batting cage for Gostkowski’s hitting display.
Also waiting for him to finish were VIP fans, who got the chance to meet the NFL kicker, take a picture with him and get autographs.
Among those was 18-year-old Andrew Sevigny, of Nashua, who got the opportunity to meet Gostkowski as an early graduation gift from a friend.
“It’s a first for me,” said Sevigny, who will graduate from Nashua South on Sunday. “I’ve never been this close to a professional athlete before. It’s interesting to see how cool they are. They’re normal people, unlike what you see on TV.”
Hudson’s Keegan Murphy was an excited 12 year old. He’s had the chance to meet other Patriots up close at autograph sessions, but this was a different experience.
“It’s really cool to see him,” Murphy said. “He’s such a good player, to get to talk to him for a few minutes and get a picture with him was really cool.”
Nashua’s Dottie O’Brien, who turns 49 Monday, was celebrating her birthday by meeting Gostkowski. A lifelong Boston sports fan, she ranked this meeting in front of the Silver Knights dugout right up there with talking to Bernie Carbo prior to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 1974.
“I’ve watched him play, I think it’s is great and he’s a great kicker,” O’Brien said. “We’re lucky to have him.
“I very much appreciate that players take the time to meet fans and do events like this. It means a lot to us all.”
Saturday night was about more than the new PAT rule, which Gostkowski says he’s ready to put into practice this fall. It’s about more than the kicker’s feeling regarding the franchise label, which he brushed off as just being happy to have a job.
This night was about celebrating with the fans of Greater Nashua.
“It’s awesome,” Gostkowski said. “It’s a beautiful day. It’s nice and warm for us, and it’s always great to get back on the baseball field. Seeing a lot of fans. The Patriots have a lot of fans everywhere, from New Hampshire to Rhode Island. So it’s good to see all of them.”