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  • Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with the University of Colorado football team.

  • Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with the University of Colorado football team.

  • Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Broomfield grad Griffin Foulk is attempting to walk on with the University of Colorado football team.



Not often are you going to find a cake maker suddenly deciding one day he or she wants to become a grillmaster. Nor would you see frequently an airline pilot transition to a train engineer, just on a whim.

But to those who know Broomfield graduate Griffin Foulk and his journey to the Colorado Buffaloes football team, the story is just as out-of-the-ordinary as one can get.

Foulk is an athlete in the most basic form — his mind and his body are strong, he’s competitive and he wants to do what it takes to get on any playing surface. Whereas now it is the turf of Folsom Field, it was once the ice rinks of the Western Hockey League and the United States Hockey League.

Even as recently as December, Foulk was in skates as he signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL. And in October, he was on the roster for the Indy Fuel (also of the ECHL) trying to make the pros.

The transition for the 21-year-old Foulk — who is a 2017 walk-on along with several local athletes — is far from typical.

“It was one of those things where I elected to forego college hockey and try and go professional at the age of 16, and it kind of came time this past fall to make the call to get my education,” Foulk said after CU’s spring game on Saturday. “But I love competing, I love working hard and it’s just second nature to me. Coming here, having an opportunity to try out … I’m just dipping my toes in the water right now but I hope to make something of it.”

The life of a junior hockey athlete is one that sees players as young as 16 years old leave their family situation, find alternative means for schooling, and play a full slate of 40 games including regional travel. For Foulk, that involved leaving Broomfield his junior year, playing 29 games for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL in 2011-12.

Over the next four years he played 163 hockey games in several WHL and USHL cities. He did, however, graduate from Broomfield officially in 2013.

But after getting cut in Indianapolis from his tryout, Foulk started to look a different direction. He had never played football, but there was a sense within that he had some of the intangibles and athleticism to give it a try.

He went to a local certified trainer — Niwot graduate Tim Naiman — and started working to make the transition to the football field. Naiman quickly recognized the physical and mental tools were all there. Foulk is 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and he runs a 4.8 40-yard dash.

“A lot of people might laugh at the thought, but I had worked with Griff for a long time and I knew what he had between his ears,” Naiman said. “He had a good understanding from watching the game, knowing what principles it takes to be a good football player, and Griff really excelled at those things.”

Foulk, along with friend, fellow hockey player and Ralston Valley grad Riley Hillis, tried out privately to see if they could get an invite to CU’s spring sessions. Both of them were successful in at least opening that door.

“There is no football background, but I just felt like I was pretty athletic,” said Foulk, who shared the ice with current NHL players Jaccob Slavin and Brandon Carlo while with the Tier 1 Colorado Thunderbirds. “I think that if anything, I have a bit of a unique perspective of the daily things. I played hockey for a living, it was a job, and it’s something that you can relate to as a college athlete.”

As a defenseman in hockey, Foulk’s read-and-react ability fed into the notion that he would be a good fit as a safety, so Foulk has been trying to learn the position ever since practices started Feb. 22.

Just like it was in junior hockey, Foulk is simply trying to get seen. He said he feels like there are some natural instincts he can carry over, but that it has been an entirely new endeavor for the most part, as he thought it would be.

“There’s not a lot of similarity in the sport, but being on the defensive side of the puck you’re the last line and have to see everything in front of you,” said Foulk, whose sister Amanda played soccer for the Buffs from 2007-11. “Kind of that same way as a safety. If something bad happens you’re usually the guy to get looked at.”

The odds of any walk-on earning a scholarship are slim — even those that have a football background. But with his 22nd birthday coming on April 20, getting an education at CU is something Foulk wasn’t going to pass up, either.

“Hockey players, you look at what is asked upon them in the sport and they probably know their own body more than any other type of athlete,” Naiman said. “All the speed agility training they’ve had is going to provide a unique base when it comes to football.

“I have told them that if they hustle and out-work your opponent you’re going to see yourself continue to be on this football team. About one in five players make it to the summer team, and it’s really in their control at this point.”

Though Foulk is older as a true freshman than most of the Buffs’ roster, he was among many local athletes on Saturday who were trying to make an impression in the spring game.

Spring walk-on candidates for 2017 include Fairview’s Cameron Frazier (WR) and Nick Porter (PK); Boulder’s Ellis Carroll (ILB) and TJ Patterson (QB); Niwot’s Mo Bandi (OL) and Bryan Meek (LB); Legacy’s Derek Coleman (TE); and Monarch’s Erik Lawson (WR).

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