By: Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- In 1998, Baldwin Wallace College (now University) placekicker Chris Kondik traveled to Mexico City, Mexico with the NCAA Division III-AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) All-Stars to play the Mexican All-Stars in the first-ever Aztec Bowl. It was a great experience for the Div. III All-Stars and even better one for Kondik.
When the U.S. NCAA Division III-AFCA All-Stars beat the Mexican All-Stars on December 20, 1997, Kondik kicked a career-high five field goals, including career-long kicks of 49 and 49 yards. He also had a 46-yarder, two 30-yarders and three extra-point kicks for 18 total points. Because of that effort, Kondik was tabbed as the placekicker on the 20th Anniversary All-Time Tazon Bowl All-Star Team.
Global Football is celebrating the 20th year of taking a Division III Select All-Star Team to Mexico every December for the Tazon de Estrellas (formerly the Aztec Bowl) and has named the 'All-Tazon Team' featuring players who made an impact on the event both on and off the field during its history.
Click Here to view the All-Tazon Team.
The Memories of his Aztec Bowl Team
"That was the last time I got to see London Fletcher," said Kondik, of his Aztec Bowl teammate who was a John Carroll University graduate who went on to have a great career in the National Football League and joins him on the 20-Year All-Time Team. "We flew to the game together.
"London was such a mild-mannered gentleman off the field," remembered Kondik. "But as soon as he got on the field, he was an animal. I think he had about 20 tackles in that game.
I also remember coach Schipper [Central College in Iowa Head Coach Ron] who coached the team," Said Kondik. "He was an excellent coach.
"We won the game by a score of 42-41 and had a two-point conversion at the end to win the game," said Kondik who kicked the record five field goals and scored 18 total points.
The Game Seems Like it Was Just Yesterday
"The altitude was a factor," said a humble Kondik, who lives in Brunswick, Ohio and came to BW after growing up in Uniontown and attending Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron. "I kicked the two longest field goals of my high school and collegiate careers (a pair of 49-yarders). In practice you could really launch the ball. It worked out nicely!
"It was a special trip for many reasons, and a big one was getting to spend time with my family who traveled to Mexico with me for the game," said Kondik, who is married and is the father of a five-year old daughter, Ava, and a six-year old son, Caden.
"Because my family was there, it was definitely more memorable," said Kondik. "We got to see the sites in Mexico City and practice and then play a football game. Kondik was receiving a refresher on his memories from his twin brother, Brian Kondik, who traveled with him to Mexico and is his business partner today.
Kondik Was One of the Best-Ever Kickers at BW
Kondik was an outstanding kicker, and it wasn't because of the altitude! His career numbers at BW can attest to it.
The four-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection was a consensus Division III first-team All-American as a freshman (Don Hansen's Small College Football Gazette, Associated Press Little All-America and Hewlett-Packard). In 1995, he was tabbed as a Bob Griese's College Football Preview, Small College Football Preview and the Football Gazette pre-season Division All-American. As a senior, he earned Div. III All-America honors again and played in the Aztec Bowl on December 20, 1997.
In 1994, Kondik set a BW record with 13 field goals that still stands today. He eclipsed BW Hall of Famer Steve Varga's mark of 12 in 1982. Kondik was 13 of 17 that season and 32 of 45 in his career for 71.1 percent. His senior season, he connected on nine of 12 attempts. The 32 field goals still ranks second all time to BW Hall of Famer Wade Massad, and his 211 kick-scoring points are second all-time to Mike Barbetta (1990-93).
He Also Excelled Off the Field and in the Classroom
In addition to his exploits on the field, Kondik was just as good in the classroom. He was a three-time Academic All-OAC and CoSIDA-GTE Academic All-District selection who earned CoSIDA-GTE Academic All-America honors as a senior.
Kondik Continues to Count on Teamwork for Success
Today, Kondik lives in Hinckley, Ohio and works for Fresh Start Financial Solutions. He and Brian worked in Berea for a number of years in a building the is above Dick's Bakery in the downtown area but moved to Brunswick a few years ago and bought a building there.
If you wish to follow the 20th-Year Anniversary of the Tazon Bowl, please use the hashtags #AllTazonTeam and #d3fb