Assumption kicker Cole Tracy is the 2017 Fred Mitchell Award winner

Cole Tracy couldn’t sleep.

A restless Tracy lay in bed lamenting why he suddenly couldn’t kick straight at training camp, a development that surprised everyone familiar with the typically consistent Assumption College kicker.

“It was just a period when I wasn’t necessarily on so I took a pause one day toward the end of camp, after a bad practice, and was just lying there one night thinking, ‘Damn, I need to turn this stuff around,’ ” said Tracy, the winner of the 2017 Fred Mitchell Award honoring the top placekicker in FCS, Division II, Division III and NJCAA for excellence on the field and in the community.

The award is named for Mitchell, an All-American kicker at Wittenberg University who also spent 41 years as a sports writer at the Chicago Tribune.

So Tracy got up that night near the end of training camp, put on workout clothes and headed to the practice field. It was 10 p.m. and the school’s soccer team was just leaving as Tracy arrived for his solo workout. Tracy started kicking and stayed at it until he straightened out his field goals and his attitude, time well spent on the way to a historic senior year.

“That was kind of the moment I was able to wrap my head around the season and flip the switch,” Tracy said.

It stayed on from that point forward, as Tracy made 27 of 29 field goals and converted all 67 extra-point attempts as Assumption went 11-2 and advanced to the Division II quarterfinals. He regained any lost trust in the season opener when coach Bob Chesney called on Tracy to beat Kutztown on the road in the rain with a 24-yard field goal with 18 seconds left. Fittingly, Kutztown also was where Tracy played in his first college game and missed a field goal — a memory that popped into his head after he waited for the chance to play hero.

“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t in my mind the whole game,” said Tracy, the only player in Division II history to make six or more field goals in a game twice. “I was like saying to myself the entire Kutztown game, ‘You’ve got to rewrite the story here.’ I kept telling myself this was the chance.”

These were the kind of opportunities Tracy envisioned when he started sending out videotapes of his kicking prowess as a senior at Newbury Park High near Camarillo, Calif. — across the country from Assumption in Worcester, Mass. The son of Ken and Pam Tracy played soccer until eighth grade before he decided to try out as a kicker on the football team in high school at the advice of a friend, who kicked for Air Force. Good decision: By the end of a record-setting prep career, the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound Tracy had attracted small-college interest from Assumption, which has about 2,000 students, and in-state options Humboldt State and Azusa Pacific.

“Being from California, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into at Assumption but Coach Chesney preached to get into the community and make Assumption College a better place when you leave it than when you found it,” Tracy said. “That stuck.”

That compelled Tracy to dive into service projects in the community and on campus. Over four years, he regularly visited children’s hospitals and cleaned up retirement homes. He organized fundraisers for charity and helped hand out free meals every Thanksgiving. He worked in the career office, helping classmates with resumes. He became the vice president of the student-athlete advisory committee, something he is as proud of as his record 53-yard field goal.

“Cole is such a well-rounded kid,” Chesney said.

Chesney thought so much of Tracy that he understood the marketing major’s decision to become a graduate transfer in 2018 and play for a Division I program. The redshirt senior has one year of college eligibility remaining. Offers from LSU and Oklahoma State have come in the past week, a hectic stretch that included Tracy taking finals at Assumption with his family back home in Ventura County worrying about the Southern California wildfires.

“It’s been a crazy, crazy week,” Tracy said. “But transferring is something that could turn a dream into reality so I am pursuing it. I went to Coach Chesney’s office and thanked him for letting me try this. He didn’t have to. But Assumption always has believed in me from Day 1. I couldn’t have done any of this without that support. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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