Zach Bromert ended up on his feet. Or, maybe more accurately, your feet.
The former Iowa kicker (1995-98), a 1999 UI graduate, will be on campus today to speak with students in the Tippie College of Business about his career, a senior product line manager for running at Nike.
“I manage the process from start to finish, from consumer research and talking with runners about their needs and then bringing that feedback and putting a plan together for design and development,” said Bromert, now 31 and living in Portland, Ore., with wife, Katie, and son, Andrew, 2. The couple is expecting another child in about a month.
His primary job with Nike is working with footwear designers and product developers to create running shoes in the $75-and-under price range. It takes about 18 months from start to finish to take a shoe from design to finished product.
“A lot of stuff I work on, you’ll find in Kohl’s or J.C. Penney, Scheel’s or Sports Authority,” said Bromert, who’s tied for fifth on Iowa’s career scoring list with 218 points. He’s been working on running for 2 1/2 years and has had quite a bit of product out the last year and a half.
“There’s pressure, but it’s good,” Bromert said. “Everyone plays their role, like any good team. It’s never all on one person, which is nice.”
Bromert took the thick skin he built during four seasons as major-college field goal kicker into the corporate world.
He had his ups and downs. All kickers do.
A walk-on out of Pensecola, Fla., Bromert was given the nod over Brion Hurley and Todd Romano during his freshman season in ’95.
He counted that as his career thrill, earning a scholarship after the ’95 season.
For me, being able to play that early in career, having that opportunity and being able to get a full scholarship at Christmas my first year, I would definitely say that was my most memorable moment,” he said. “Not just because I had my education paid for, but because I felt like part of the team from the get-go. There were a lot of good memories, but that was one of the more rewarding.”
Billed as a short-range kicker, Bromert nailed 15 of 18 field goal attempts his freshman and sophomore years. As a junior, coaches put him into the full-time role and he struggled, making just 7 of 16.
He split the duties his senior year and hit 4 of 5 for a career total of 26-for-39.
“It’s honestly a pretty good life lesson, a kicker’s life,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s either feast or famine. Everybody wants to see you or nobody wants to see you. It doesn’t make for an easy life, especially if things aren’t going well for you.”
Bromert said you find out who your real friends are pretty quickly when you’re wearing the kicker’s shoe. The specialists group is a small, tight-knit crew. Bromert said Hurley and Romano were never bitter and always helpful in his early years.
“It’s such a great lesson about life,” he said. “When things aren’t going your way and it’s tough, the reality is that people who really mean a lot to you are the ones who are going to be there for you. You find that out really quickly when things are tough.
“When things are good, everyone wants to be your friend. But when things get a little bit tough, you find out about yourself and about the people around you.
“I had a lot of good times at Iowa. Definitely had some rough patches, but, no doubt, I’m totally grateful for the program and the University and the fans for the opportunity they gave me. There are a lot of things I never would’ve experienced in my life if I wasn’t given that chance. I look back on it as a major growing point in my life and made a big difference in who I am today.”