Lou Hedley: From Scaffolding to the NFL – The Unconventional Journey of a Rising Punter
Punters with personality have always captured the imagination of football fans. From Pat McAfee’s charisma to their ability to inject swagger into a seemingly mundane position, they often become revered as folk heroes. Now, with the arrival of Lou Hedley, a 30-year-old punter from Australia, the New Orleans Saints may have found their newest cult figure. Hedley’s journey, starting from the deserts of Western Australia to a tattoo shop in Indonesia, and now to the NFL, has all the makings of a story that captures the hearts of football enthusiasts.
Earning a Spot on the Roster
Recently named to the Saints’ 53-man roster, Hedley’s place in the NFL has been solidified. Undrafted in 2023, he made the bold choice to sign with the New Orleans team in pursuit of a roster spot instead of joining the CFL, where he was previously drafted. Throughout the preseason, Hedley’s booming punts and exceptional directional kicking skills outperformed the incumbent starter, Blake Gillikin. It’s a remarkable turn of events for someone who was erecting scaffolding in the desert not so long ago.
Australian Rules Roots
Hedley’s kicking prowess can be traced back to his background in Australian Rules Football (AFL), a sport that has acted as a pivotal breeding ground for numerous Australian punters who have gone on to play college football. In fact, in 2021, 53 out of 130 FBS teams boasted a punter from Down Under. Initially, Hedley had aspirations of playing AFL professionally, but during his high school years, he realized that he lacked the required speed, athleticism, and conditioning necessary to break through in the fiercely competitive sport.
Embracing the Scaffold Life
At a crossroads in life, Hedley made the decision to drop out of high school and enter the workforce. From that point on, his days were spent erecting scaffolding at various locations, ranging from mines to power plants. Carrying out his duties suspended high above the ground, Hedley found a way to maintain his fitness while earning a decent income. Moreover, during this period, he developed a deep passion for tattoo artistry.
A Life on the Beach
Bali, Indonesia, has long been a go-to destination for Australian tourists, particularly young adults seeking vibrant nightlife and adventure. For Hedley, it became a home-away-from-home. Armed with his savings from his scaffold work, Hedley co-owned a tattoo shop called Rosemarrie Tattoo, allowing him to enjoy the coastal lifestyle he had become accustomed to while expanding his ever-growing collection of body art. Rather than viewing it as a profit-oriented venture, this served as an opportunity for Hedley to revel in the life he had come to cherish.
Punting on Dreams
Despite the fulfilling life he had built in Bali, Hedley could not let go of his desire to compete professionally in sports. Enrolling in ProKick, an organization that scouts Australian kickers and helps place them in college programs, he caught the attention of talent scouts. In 2017, Hedley joined the City College of San Francisco, which acted as a stepping stone toward a more prominent opportunity. His impressive punting skills garnered interest from Power 5 schools, eventually leading him to choose the University of Miami. There, he enjoyed a breakout college career, consistently launching 45.2-yard punts with remarkable precision and power.
A 30-year-old Tattooed Dad in the NFL
The phenomenal journey of Lou Hedley, a 30-year-old father, is nothing short of extraordinary. Balancing fatherhood while pursuing his dreams, Hedley’s devotion to his 5-year-old son, Loki, has played a significant role in his journey back to professional sports. To summarize, Hedley is a punter who, at 30 years old, boasts an eclectic background as a former laborer, a surfing enthusiast, and a co-owner of a tattoo shop. Now, as he embarks on his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, the city is poised to fall in love with his talent, personality, and unique story. The legend of Lou Hedley is only just beginning.
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