Vavlas Finds Place on Special Teams
Jan. 10, 2012
At the beginning of the 2011 football season, there may not have been many Georgia fans that knew who Kosta Vavlas was. As the No. 48 jersey charged down the field, weaved around blocks and took down the best return specialists in the league, people began to take notice.
A member of the scout team in 2010, Vavlas took the field this season with the Bulldogs special teams and excelled in his role.
“I love special teams,” Vavlas said. “It’s always fun to be out there. There is always one play that could change the game. I’m just thankful the coaches trust me to be out there for some of those teams. It’s a real honor.”
This year was a breakout season for the redshirt freshman. Vavlas totaled 19 tackles all on special teams, including a career-high four against Tennessee while notching six games with two takedowns.
Vavlas’ hard work did not go without recognition. For the Vanderbilt game, Vavlas was named one of the team’s captains while also being awarded Most Valuable Special Teams Player with punter Drew Butler at the UGA Football Gala.
“It was just a surreal experience of being out there and finally getting a chance to get on the field,” Vavlas said. “I just thank God for having the opportunity to put on a uniform and be out there. The first game I had nerves and everything, but after that I caught my ground and got a little more comfortable as the season progressed.”
Growing up in Tarpon Springs, Fla., Vavlas could have easily grown up a fan of any of the Florida teams. However, something caught his eye at an early age that made him a Bulldog fan. It could have been the red and black or the bulldog, but whatever it was, Vavlas wasn’t going to pass up the chance to take a spot as a walk-on for the football team.
“It was just one of those things that I wanted to do,” Vavlas said. “When the opportunity came, I had to take it. I had things from little schools, but I just wanted to give it a shot and try my best.”
Vavlas’ knowledge of Athens, Ga., may be less than he knows about another Athens—Greece. Originally from Greece, Vavlas’ parents moved to the United States as young adults, and settled in Tarpon Springs, a city less than an hour from Tampa with many Greek influences within it, varying from restaurants to festivals.
Despite the traditions that some may think are quirky, Vavlas takes pride in where his family comes from.
“I like my culture and my roots,” Vavlas said. “It’s a real rich tradition. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s just a part of who I am and made me the person I am today.”
Blessed with a close-knit family, one person that Vavlas draws the most strength from is his mother, Nomiki. When Vavlas was seven years old, his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“You wouldn’t know it if you talked to her,” Vavlas said. “If you want to go on a walk or something, she’s bringing her walker and she’s coming. She might just go at a different pace, but she’s up for anything.”
While his brother Bobby was away at Elmhurst College in Illinois playing football, Vavlas was there to help take care of his mom. Despite the distance from Florida to Georgia, Nomiki tries to make it to as many games as possible, and their relationship continues to flourish.
“It’s different,” Vavlas said of the two’s connection since he has been in Athens. “I was always a momma’s boy—I would stay in, hang out, go to dinner with my mom. I think it makes us even stronger now because it makes you take advantage of the times you are with her. You don’t realize all the things she does for you. It makes our relationship even stronger.”
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