MISSOULA — Montana senior kicker Adam Botkin is in his first and last season as a member of the soccer team.
When he arrived on campus as a freshman in 2018, the 6-foot-4 former Rocky Mountain College (Billings) basketball pledge was just a student. Four years later, he added “athlete” to the end of that tag, walking him through his senior year of eligibility.
With the team set to visit Fargo on Saturday afternoon for a second-round playoff game, his short collegiate athletic career would end in loss.
“It’s weird because I feel like I’ve just started playing football and I’ve just started going with everything,” Botkin said. “But at the end of the day, there are so many opportunities because of what I just went through…I have a lot to look forward to after this.”
The Frenchtown native’s experience with the Griz soccer team helped him find his passion: social media.
Indeed, social media has helped him to team up and find out what he wants to pursue as a career.
With the power of TikTok, a short-form video sharing app that lets users create and share 15-second videos on any topic, Botkin has become the Grizzlies’ backup kicker.
During the COVID pandemic, she started posting videos for fun which caught the attention of some social media influencers. Before she knew it, she had a large following of what is now approximately 88.5 thousand people.
Much of his videos feature him kicking field goals or showing off his range, which includes a 71-yard mark, and that was enough for UM football coach Bobby Hauck.
“I contacted them and everything went smoothly from there,” Botkin said. “I had already posted a lot of movies online because of my social media stuff, so it was just a quick try from there.”
Now he wants to use that growing platform to give back to aspiring athletes who want to be in his position.
Despite having limited action this season, Botkin is glad he played and wants to help others feel the same joy.
University without football
The year 2018 was definitely a strange time for Botkin. Originally intended to go to Rocky and join the basketball and track and field programs, his freshman year began at UM. He backed away from his athletic decisions, unsure of what exactly he wanted.
He chose Montana because of his familiarity with it. And, as most college kids would prefer to him, she helped him save money.
“I’m basically from here…15 minutes away, so it was an easy transition,” Botkin said. “Easy answer, live at home and save on rent. But no… my mother is from this area… all my cousins have been here… it was a pretty easy decision.”
Still wanting to play sports, Botkin ended up finding her niche with the women’s basketball team.
A kid who nearly double-pointed average with the Frenchtown High team, he became a practice player for Lady Griz. He fought with them, participated in practical exercises and ultimately helped make them better.
It wasn’t an official sport, but Botkin was out there playing again.
“I just got a text from my high school coach one day in my freshman year and I think the head coach (for the Lady Griz) had contacted him asking if he had any previous players going here,” Botkin said. “It looked like fun and one of my best friends did it with me. We both played Frenchtown together so we both came to do it here…it was super fun and a great way to keep fit.”
Over time, being an effective member of a varsity sports team became a priority. Watching local high school soccer made him want to play once more. He finally knew what he wanted to do.
Using social media, he quenched his thirst to rejoin a football club.
The power of social media
Botkin never expected his just-for-fun videos to go viral. It just so happened that the right people saw them, liked them, and word got out. Right now, the most viewed video of him has 8.2 million views.
He became something of a social media star and it gave him an easy way to showcase his skills to the Griz football coaching staff. All the videos he was making for his spare time became test films that landed him on the Montana roster.
It was then that he realized the potential of his platform for other guys in his position. If social media has helped him achieve one of his dreams, they can help others, and that’s his calling.
“The whole point of my social media stuff is to impact kids who haven’t necessarily had a lot of recruiting opportunities outside of high school, kind of like me,” Botkin said. “Giving them a platform to showcase their highlights… guiding them as I can… out of all of that, that’s the most important thing.”
He doesn’t want to do it as a hobby or as a sideline. He wants it to be what he does for a living.
These days, YouTubers and TikTokers are some of the most influential and wealthiest people on the planet. There is a road to success along that road, and Botkin is on the right track.
“I want to grow this, the social media stuff,” Botkin said. “It’s already turning into a career itself. As long as I keep elevating it, it’s not really about me, it’s about what I can create for kids to get them their fours or guide them to get to where they want to be.
Embracing his role
While there is certainly some correlation between the Montana Grizzlies and Botkin via the Internet at this point, the senior kicker doesn’t want that to be the case. Frankly because he actually doesn’t even play.
“The guys who are making the plays are supposed to be the face of Montana football, so I’m not trying to make it look like I’m trying to (be the face of Griz football),” Botkin said. “But I definitely try to bring positive attention to it whenever I can.”
Botkin just wants to do his part in promoting the program he grew up watching from the front row of the north endzone. To be anything more than that wouldn’t feel right to him—he’s just happy to be here.
“I didn’t play at all last year or previous years, so just being able to be a part of something is the biggest part,” Botkin said. “Getting out of that tunnel…it’s just surreal. If I can help the team in any way I can, that’s all that matters.
His selflessness to the program, whether it be running practice drills or encouraging teammates on the sideline, made his addition worth it for Hauck.
They’re glad to have him around and hope to have him around for at least another week following Saturday’s heavyweight bout with North Dakota State University.
“He’s a great guy, it’s been fun to have him around,” Hauck said. “He basically ends up being a multi-talented guy and he does a great job for us.”