By Roger Lee Osborne/Who’s That? editor

Eastern football punter Phil Kuhl, a 22-year-old biology major from Florence, was among six student-athletes to be awarded the Ohio Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is the highest individual honor OVC student-athletes can earn.”I think it would be a lie to say that the awards didn’t make me feel good. It’s more of a tangible thing that I can say, ‘this is proof here that I did it,'” Kuhl said.

While it’s nice to have something to show his parents Kuhl says he is confident about his choices even if he hadn’t won the award.

“If there was no award I would still be happy with what I’m doing,” he said.

Kuhl cites his father as a great role model who from an early age always encouraged him to stay active in sports.

“My dad first introduced me to sports when I was about 7 years old. He was a really big influence on me as far as me partaking in sports,” Kuhl said.

Kuhl’s father acted as his coach while he played basketball, baseball and soccer, helping him not only enjoy athletics but to also learn from them.

“He really introduced them to me at a young age because they really teach you a lot about life like teamwork and being competitive,” he said.

A sports fan and avid soccer player from an early age, Kuhl didn’t start playing football until his freshman year of high school.

“My whole life, until I got to college, I played year-round soccer, basketball and baseball,” Kuhl said. “When I started playing football my freshman year of high school, I knew it was something I would like to continue in college.”

Kuhl said playing sports over the years has helped him on the field as well as off.

“It has taught me a lot about how to overcome adversity. Sometimes you can have some bad practices and games,” Kuhl said.

Although playing football has helped Kuhl to have confidence, he admits that having a positive mind set is also important.

“You can either hang your head down and question yourself or you can you say, ‘no, I want to achieve this,'” Kuhl said.

Kuhl credits his father with helping him develop a strong work ethic and teaching him hard work does pay off.

“I get my work ethic from my father. Everything I am today is because of him. He has taught me so much,” Kuhl said. “I’m very blessed to have him.”

From the beginning of Kuhl’s football career he knew he wanted to be able to continue to play in college. After attending a few training camps he made the decision to come to Eastern.

“It’s been a dream come true. There is not a single moment I would take back,” Kuhl said. “I knew I wanted to leave home, and I didn’t want to burden my parents with too far of a drive to come see me play.”

The OVC selects three men and three women student-athletes in their senior years annually to receive the award. Students must have at least a 3.25 grade point average to qualify for the award.

Kuhl also said balancing sports and school is crucial.

“Often my classes and football overlap. Without time management I really couldn’t have been able to do all of this,” he said.

After graduating from Eastern Kuhl hopes to continue playing football while attending medical school.

“How ever far I can take football, that would be a dream come true,” Kuhl said. “It was a dream even before I started playing football as a freshmen in high school.”

Reach Roger Lee at roger_osborne2@eku.edu