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Aussie punter trains with former NFL player

Sitting in front of the steps to Kebab 88 in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia, Sarah Abla and Tyson Dyer would have their first unofficial date of many to come.

The two made their way across the coastal entertainment destination from what locals call Liar’s Bar to the outdoor take-out mediterranean shop, a soon to be favorite for the two, where the conversation drifted from details about their two families and past relationships, even a chance sighting of Dyer’s ex-girlfriend in the busy street.

For six hours the two talked into the wee hours of the morning, something Alba knew was different and set Dyer apart. Something that could make Dyer the one.

“The night Tyson met Sarah, he came home and told me that he had just met the girl he was going to marry. I believed him,” said Estelle Dyer, Tyson’s mother, through Facebook.

From that night, the 6-foot-2-inch Australian football player would travel across the Pacific Ocean from his native Australia to be with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania girl he met over the Spring of 2012.

“If I thought about this seven years ago I would’ve never thought that I would be at a college playing football chasing a girl across the world,” Tyson Dyer said. “It’s not a normal story, I know that. It’s an exciting life – it does feel like a movie to be honest.”

Tyson set new punting records for Palomar last fall all while making Dean’s List the same semester with 21 units. Come this Summer, the 25-year-old international student will trade in California’s golden coasts for the high desert of New Mexico where he will be playing for the Division 1 football team of the University of New Mexico on full scholarship.

As the oldest team member on the football team, Tyson refers to himself as a “mature” student compared to his teammates fresh out of high school. It’s this maturity and a singular drive that has found Tyson a mentor in Darren Bennett, a former National Football League punter and now Los Angeles Chargers Hall of Famer (formerly the San Diego Chargers).

“Tyson was one of those guys who resonated with a different story,” Bennett said. “He came from the real world working as a mechanic. I think he’s really on an adventure that was similar to the one my wife Rosemary and I started when we came across to play in the NFL.”

Tyson Dyer practices kicking the ball during the game at Escondido High School against Goldenwest College on Oct 21. Alexis Metz-Szedlacsek (@skepticully) / The Telescope
Tyson Dyer practices kicking the ball during the game at Escondido High School against Goldenwest College on Oct 21. Alexis Metz-Szedlacsek (@skepticully) / The Telescope

Dyer came in contact with Bennett through Facebook, sharing his story and seeking advice on how to make it to the United States as an international student. “I thought it was a bit of a stab in the dark, but [Bennett] responded straight away,” Dyer said. “He sort of took me under his wing and helped me out.”

Tyson’s hard work and determination was apparent to Estelle. “Tyson has always been determined and dedicated to whatever he’s doing… but his love for Sarah and commitment to her for over seven years is amazing,” Estelle said.

Abla, a 28-year-old fourth-year student at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, is Dyer’s girlfriend after having met during her Queensland, Australia Study Abroad program in undergrad.

Moving back to Pittsburgh where Abla was finishing out her psychology degree at the University of Pittsburgh left the couples relationship status as “it’s complicated” on Facebook. After three months of limbo, the two made it official and sought out ways to make their long distance relationship a little less long.

“I just think that – It’s been six and a half years and we are all just saying, ‘one day this is going to work out,’” Abla said. “One day we’re just going to make it work and we’re going to be in the same place and we just keep pushing for that.”

While Dyer has lived in Carlsbad for the past year, the two have sought ways to make their relationship last through the distance by Abla taking short clinical rotations in family medicine in Fontana, dermatology in Santa Ana, and more recently a osteopathic manipulative rotation in Oceanside.

Dyer spent the Spring 2017 semester at San Diego Mesa College before transferring over to Palomar for the football season on the advice of Bennett and for the coaching of Tom Everest, Palomar’s football special teams coordinator.

However, before he made it to Escondido High School’s football field, where the college plays its home games, Dyer needed to use his Australian football skill set and quickly adapt to the American style. Dyer explains that the two are completely different sports where in Australian rules players pass by punting the ball in a short and accurate kick to one another. In American rules football, punting the ball boils down to a few minutes on the field where you have two or three steps to precisely kick the ball as far as you can with enough hang time.

Within a year of playing the sport, Dyer won Special Teams Player of the Year by his teammates. Coach Everest said that Tyson is one of the best players on the team and most valuable player in terms of the contribution he makes as an individual.

“It was kind of nice knowing I made an impact just being a kicker or punter… and getting an award for all the effort I put in through the year,” Dyer said.

Palomar Football, Tyson Dyer Escondido, Ca. -Anabel Malacara/the Telescope
Palomar Football, Tyson Dyer Escondido, Ca. -Anabel Malacara/the Telescope

Dyer was contacted by UNM through Twitter to visit the campus in Albuquerque. The same day of the visit Dyer committed to the university while having another offer from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and making initial contact with the University of California, Berkeley and Brigham Young University.

“I took more of a calculated decision than most football players would,” Dyson said of his commitment to UNM. “Ideally it was where Sarah could move to as well.”

Abla was admitted into UNM School of Medicine, and the idea of being in the same college let alone the same city is a dream come true for the couple.

“We can finally be in the same city; be in the same place for the first time ever,” Abla says with an optimistic laugh.

 

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