World class: Alaska FootGolfer named to the US National Team
While soccer and golf are currently two of the most popular sports internationally, it's the fusion of the two that has people talking here in the United States. The sport is FootGolf and one of the nation's premiere players lives right here in Alaska.
Jeremy Johnson has been coaching soccer in Anchorage and the Mat-Su for 25 years, currently heading the boys and girls varsity programs at Colony High School in Palmer. In October, Johnson was named to the American FootGolf Federation national team that will represent the United States at the 2018 World Cup in Marrakesh, Morocco in December.
Johnson's love for FootGolf started three and a half years ago when he saw a random video on YouTube.
"I love golf, but I'm terrible at it. I love soccer and I feel I'm pretty accurate at kicking a soccer ball, so I (wanted) to give this a try."
He visited the sport's official website and found that there was a course in his backyard at the Anchorage Golf Course. (It has since moved to Fox Hollow Golf Course.)
Johnson soon found out that the game is very similar to golf — and he's really good at it.
"It's on actual golf courses... you kick the ball down the golf course just like a golfer would hit a golf ball down the golf course," explained Johnson. "Then we have 21-inch diameter cups that are set down in the ground with a golf flag in it."
The soccer ball to FootGolf cup is the same size ratio as golf ball to golf cup, both fitting two balls.
"The biggest difference is a lot of the time you pass the soccer ball along the ground more," Johnson said. "(In) golf you're going to chip (the ball) up in air a lot... your soccer ball bounces a fair amount. So if it bounces too much it can bounce left or right down into the bushes."
Johnson took part in the American FootGolf League season, which much like the PGA tour has major, mid-major, and smaller tournaments. At the end of the season, the top 12 players qualify for the national team using a points system. An additional four players were added wild-card picks.
The 2018 World Cup in Marrakesh, Morocco takes place Dec. 9–16 and will feature 400 men, women, and seniors from 37 nations — including one Alaskan will be there to help Team USA as they try to defend their 2017 World Cup championship.
Johnson has created a fundraising website to help cover the costs of getting to Morocco.
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