Dan Carpenter The Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl kicker finds a home away from home.

     As you might imagine, life in Montana is a bit different than life in South Beach. Dan Carpenter, the fifth year kicker for the Miami Dolphins certainly never imagined that he would be spending a good part of his life away from home, where his wife Kaela grew up on a farm and where he spent much of his free time hunting and fishing.
     Serendipity brought Carpenter to the University of Montana football team. His high school coach once played for the Grizzlies and still maintained a good relationship with the program. While attending a high school camp on Montana’s campus, his coach brought him over to meet the collegiate coaching staff. They asked him to kick a few balls on the spot. Before he knew it, he was being considered for the team.
     Even still, with only 32 jobs in the NFL, the odds of making it as a kicker are even longer than making it as a quarterback. “Every athlete has a dream of playing in the pros,” Carpenter says. “But I never played thinking this was my ticket.”
     While studying for his degree in chemistry at the University of Montana, Carpenter thought he’d graduate, become a teacher in Montana along with his wife Kaela who also has a teaching degree, and maybe coach kids a bit to fulfill his competitive nature.
     But when effort and opportunity come together, there’s no telling what might happen. “Honestly, I think my agent, Ken Staninger, thought I had a better chance than I did to make the NFL,” Carpenter says. (Staninger sadly passed away this January after a battle with cancer.) “I worked out for a few teams. The Dolphins said they would give me a fair chance to compete for the job, so I went to camp there. But Jay Feely was coming off one of the best seasons a Dolphins kicker ever had.”
     Despite Feely setting a Dolphins record for field goal percentage the year before, Carpenter did indeed get a chance to compete. Feely was released and would eventually sign with the Jets. Carpenter has been a fan favorite with the Dolphins ever since.
     Despite spending most of their time living in Miami, Dan and Kaela have still managed to maintain a very small town lifestyle. On most days, Kaela is experimenting in the kitchen with recipes that she posts on her website cookinandkickin.com. “During the season, she’ll bake stuff and I’ll bring it into the locker room twice a week. When I don’t bring her food in, I hear about it from the guys.”
     Meanwhile, Dan is content taking his boat out for a spin and getting some fishing in along the little stream that runs behind the house. “Once in a while, we’ll get a knock on the door,” Kaela says. “It will be one of the kids from the neighborhood with a fishing pole. They’ll be so shy and they’ll say ‘Can Dan come out and fish today?’ It’s so sweet.”
      The couple still doesn’t know what the future will hold. “It’s hard to believe it’s been four years in the league,” Carpenter says, making the Pro Bowl in one of those seasons. “But if I’m lucky enough to play into double digit seasons and we start a family here, maybe our kids will like it and want to stay. But we love Montana, too.” Then Kaela shows us a photograph from her family farm. The landscape is as green as the eye can see. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asks. “How lucky have we been to experience all of this.”