UW Health Sports Medicine 

Pat O'Dea

Pat O'Dea

One of several Wisconsin greats from the pre-modern era of college football is kicker Pat O'Dea. The Australian-born O'Dea came to Madison in 1896 to join his brother Andy, who was crew coach and football trainer. Known as the 'Kangaroo Kicker,' O'Dea brought a different style to the American game of football. He learned to play the Australian game where all punting and drop-kicking was done on the run. O'Dea drop-kicked a legendary 62-yard field goal vs. Northwestern during a heavy blizzard. After his playing days, he coached at Notre Dame and Missouri before moving to San Francisco. O'Dea, who essentially had disappeared, was thought to have joined an Australian contingent which travelled through the country. Press releases surmised that he 'probably lies beneath an unmarked grave in France.'

The truth was, he had moved to California under the assumed name of Charles J. Mitchell, to escape the pressure of being a star ex-athlete. 'Probably, I was wrong,' he said in an interview with San Francisco sportswriter Bill Leiser after the 17-year exile. 'I wanted to get away from my past. As Pat O'Dea, I seemed very much just an ex-football player. I was very happy as Charles Mitchell for awhile.'

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