Q&A with NDA Alumni and Big 10 Punter Peter Mortell


Maureen Schick, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

When did you know that you wanted to play football in college?

I have always loved the game of football.  Ever since I first put the pads on in 5th grade, I was hooked.  As I grew older, my passion for the game grew stronger.  After my junior high school football season, I made the decision that I was going to put 100% time and effort into achieving my lifelong dream of playing Big 10 football.  


How did Coach Nowak and the NDA football team help you on your path to playing Big 10 Football?

Coach Nowak is one of the best in the business.  He’s coached so many young men throughout his career, and I trusted that man with my life.  After my junior season, he told me I’d have a chance to play in college if I did the right things off the field and had a good senior season.  We talked almost daily during my time there, and he is more responsible for the success I’ve had at the college level than he probably understands.  My teammates on the NDA football team made me love the game more than ever before.  Since high school, I’ve played in games at some of the most historic stadiums in the country ( Big House in Ann Arbor, The Horseshoe at Ohio State, Camp Randall in Madison, etc.) but my greatest football memories are the ones shared with my best friends as a Triton.
What’s next for you? Are you looking to play in the NFL?

I’ll spend the next four months training in Minneapolis as I hope to pursue a career in the NFL.  It’s more difficult to get into the NFL as a punter because there is only one of them on each team.  That means there are only 32 in the whole league.  I’m going to give it my best shot and let the chips fall where they may.

Mrs. Brown told us a pretty cool story about you and how you sent film to a ton of college coaches, and how the University of Minnesota finally gave you your chance. What type of advice would you give athletes or any student pursuing their sport at the college level?

I sent my film to 90 Division I schools.  The only one to take a chance on me was the University of Minnesota.  In addition, I had to send it 5 times to the Gophers just to get a response.  I think one of the reasons I ultimately ended up a Gopher is because the coaches saw how interested I was in playing for their university.  I was active and didn’t give up even though it was hard not hearing back from them after the first four times I sent my film.  My advice to athletes who want to play college sports is work hard when no one’s watching.  My senior year, I would wake up and go to the YMCA at 5 a.m. every morning before school.  It wasn’t fun at all, but I knew one day it would pay off because I was outworking my competition.  

Favorite memory from your days here at NDA?

There are so many, but ultimately I would have to say beating Bay Port my senior year.  They were undefeated and nobody gave us a chance to win.  In the end, we beat them in double overtime making it a special night that I’ll never forget.  

What are you studying/majoring in? What type of job do you hope to get with your degree?

I have my undergraduate degree in Marketing and am currently pursuing a Masters in Sports Management.  One day I’d like to work in a front office of an NFL team.  

I saw you recently made up and won your own award for “Holder of the Year.” What is the most meaningful or funny award you have every received?

The Holder of the Year award was definitely the most prestigious.  Although it was self-proclaimed (and totally meant as a joke) a lot of people played along and eventually it went viral.  The most meaningful award would have to be my 2014 Edelman-Fields Punter of the Year.

What was so special about playing for the University of Minnesota, and what is the greatest thing you have learned there in your four years?

I love playing football, but it’s not the games that are the best part about being a student-athlete here.  The memories I have made off the football field will far exceed anything I’ve done on it.  Volunteering and giving back to the community is something that’s very important to me, and I’ve learned a lot through those experiences.  From going to the children’s hospital, elementary schools, or the special Olympics, I’ve had a blast positively impacting a community that welcomed a walk-on punter from Notre Dame Academy four years ago.