An ethic of serving others

September 13, 2017
Ryan Santoso punting in a game

Beyond the booming punts and the deep kickoffs on the football field, Ryan Santoso has dedicated himself to an ethic of selflessness and service off the field.

And the college football world has taken notice. Santoso was recently named a nominee for the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy, awarded to the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

While at the U, Santoso has volunteered at the Children’s Hospital, the Boys and Girls Club, Luxton Learning Center, and with various sports camps. He hopes to make a difference in the world as his career options open in front of him, and he’s already gained a great head start.

“The way I give back and the things that I do for others will hopefully create a ripple effect for others to do that, as well—to change the world,” says a smiling Santoso after a recent practice and before another visit to the Children’s Hospital. “I want to make my life about love and giving back to people.”

He credits Gopher players before him, like Peter Mortell and Chris Hawthorne, for instilling a culture of service in the football program, and to head coach P.J. Fleck for emphasizing it. “Changing our perspective from ‘us’ to ‘others’ is huge,” Santoso says.

In the classroom, Santoso is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He already has a degree in sport management and is pursuing a master’s in nonprofit management. 

On the field, he was the Gophers’ starting placekicker for his first two seasons, going 29-for-39 on field goals and earning third team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore. He became the team’s punter last year, and has punted 86 times for a 41.1-yard average, while still handling some of the kickoff duties.

Update: The Gophers moved to 3-0 on the season with a 34-3 home victory against Middle Tennessee on September 16. Santoso punted five times for an average of 47.0 yards and a long, field-flipping punt of 64 yards.