Place kicker Justin Yoon went from hockey to football after getting 'discovered'
Notre Dame place kicker Justin Yoon made history last week against Virginia Tech by becoming the all-time points leader at Notre Dame with 322 points and counting. The idea of being an Irish record holder was never a dream of Justin's or even an afterthought.
Notre Dame place kicker Justin Yoon did not grow up with a love of football.
"My dad just put me on skates and let me skate around and get used to it," Justin said.
His love has always been on the ice. Skating is a tradition in the Yoon family.
"Our whole family skated. My brother was a speed skater and then my sister was a figure skater. I figure skated. My father was a hockey player. So, it just happened. He put us on skates and that's how everything started," said Jiseop 'Ji' Yoon, Justin's dad.
Ji was a competitive figure skater throughout his young life eventually becoming a high level judge for the International Skating Union where he judged future Korean gold medalist Yuna Kim.
He even influenced Kim to incorporate a then unprecedented triple jump combination into her routine.
But Ji found his real passion in teaching children how to skate.
"Kids are like sponges. So they absorb. You teach them certain drills, certain things. They perform that on the ice during a game without even thinking about it. That's what the beauty is. Wow, I've done something right. You know, it makes me feel good," Ji said.
He channeled his love for all things ice onto his son.
What did Justin like about hockey?
"As you play you're like 'Oh my gosh, this is really fun.' The game itself is interesting, just the way you formulate plays and how different aspects of the play change momentums of the game. It's one of the sports where anything can happen," Justin said.
Justin became a die-hard NHL fan.
"I was a Detroit Red Wings fan when I grew up, just because my favorite player used to play on the team. Steve Yizerman, he was the captain, number 19. That's where I get it from. I just liked him because he was an amazing talent but I thought he was also a playmaker. He's a guy who wants to help out the team. And so I kind of looked at that and my perspective and thought that's the kind of person I want to be," Justin said.
As Justin grew older he played hockey, soccer and lacrosse. He never even thought about football until one day, after school, the coach spotted him.
"I was just doing a variety of kicks on the soccer field and the football coach from middle school came over and was like 'Who is this kid?' He came over and asked me 'Hey have you ever played football?' And I'm here going 'What's football?'" Justin said.
Football was foreign to Justin but he dedicated himself to learning the sport.
Soon that dedication paid off.
By Justin's senior year he was the number 1 rated high school kicker in the nation receiving 7 scholarship offers including Stanford and Harvard but Notre Dame was the right fit.
Just last week, Justin made history at Notre Dame breaking the all-time points record.
"Not many people have this chance. They don't have this opportunity. And to be one of those people and to be able to get this type of record, it's leaving a mark," Justin said.
Justin is closing in on another Notre Dame record. With 49 career field goals, he's just 9 shy of breaking the Irish career field goals record held by Kyle Brindza