Robbie McEwen was a member of Chatfield Senior High’s 2001 5A state football championship team. He moved to Nebraska where he played at Division I-AA Drake before transferring to Division-I Nebraska. Now he’s training the art of long snapping while also practicing law. The Columbine Courier’s Michael Hicks recently caught up with McEwen.
1. While at Chatfield, you were a key cog on the 2001 5A state championship team that went 14-0, including a 9-3 win over Fairview in the finals. What was that season like for you?
“Even though it has been more than 10 years since our team won the state championship it still seems like yesterday. I started at defensive tackle and as long snapper the entire season. The memories from that season are some that I will cherish forever, and I feel lucky that I was apart of such a talented squad. It is almost surreal thinking back on the season, like it was a ‘made for TV movie.’ ”
2. While people commonly refer to offense, defense and special teams as the three phases of a football game, specifically long snapping isn’t typically noticed, but it’s a key part of the game isn’t it?
“I would argue that long snapping is a key part of a football game that really goes unnoticed. It is one of the things that you really don’t pay attention to until either the snapper makes a mistake or is hurt. Only then you can see how much affect the position can have on the game.”
3. Not only have you played long snapper, but you’ve also coached the position at high schools in Lincoln and North Platte, Neb., not to mention at the Nebraska Special Teams Academy. What is the most difficult thing about teaching the position?
“It is a difficult position to coach, but it is rewarding. A lot of people don’t realize the touch or technique that goes into snapping a ball. I also pitched for Chatfield in high school baseball, and I would say that snapping is pretty similar to pitching. Every snapper will grip the ball in a slightly different way and have their own unique motion, but coaching the position is all about refining the player’s natural motion to achieve the desired result.”
4. Prior to transferring to Nebraska in 2006, you started every game as a field goal and punt snapper for Drake University. How did the experience of starting at the Division I-AA level prepare you for your transfer and furthermore later in life?
“I think my experience at Drake University helped prepare me tremendously for my time as a long snapper at Nebraska and for everything that has come after. As many fans of college football know the level of competition at the Division I-AA level is very high and the level of dedication and commitment that is required to succeed at this level is also very high. I think as an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school being committed to 25-30 hours a week of football-related activities while balancing school helped me learn how to manage my time and how to handle stressful situations.”
5. Outside of athletics, people may not know that you graduated from Nebraska’s College of Law in 2011. Tell us about that?
“Yes, that is correct. I graduated from Nebraska’s College of Law last spring and now I am a staff attorney in the Child Welfare System Accountability Program at Nebraska Appleseed. Nebraska Appleseed is a non-partisan, non-profit legal advocacy organization that works for equal justice and full opportunity for all Nebraskans. Our program uses legal policy and administrative advocacy to generate and implemment positive policy change for children and families in the child welfare system. I really feel so lucky knowing that every day the work that I get to do will make Nebraska’s foster care system better both the children and their families.”