Alumni Corner: From football star to humanitarian

Connor Kavanaugh, class of 2007, evades a tackle against the Tigard Tigers on Sept. 8, 2006.

Connor Kavanaugh, 28, has had a long and wide-ranging journey since he graduated from Lincoln in 2007. From a Division 1 football star for the Portland State Vikings, he has now become a humanitarian helping people with disabilities.

While at Lincoln, he led the team to the OSAA state championship game his junior year, where it lost to Jesuit 14-10. That year, he was named The Oregonian’s player of the year and was named first-team, all-state both his junior and senior years.

Kavanaugh passed for 6,699 yards in two seasons and led the state in touchdown passes and passing yards during his junior and senior year.

However, he says not many colleges believed he had the ability to compete at a college level as a quarterback. This was one of the many setbacks that Kavanaugh would face.

After choosing to attend Portland State University instead, many of his coaches continued to underestimate his abilities. This only motivated Kavanaugh more, and he finally convinced then-Head Coach Tim Walsh to place him as the quarterback.

“You know those people in life who just keep on getting lucky, always in the right place at the right time? I was one of those people. And it just so happened that the harder I worked, the luckier I got. And the constant achievement kept me always wanting more,” said Kavanaugh.

Once he got the chance, Kavanaugh blossomed into a star.

He became a dual threat at quarterback, as both a passer and runner.  Before his career at PSU ended, he was the school’s 12th all-time leading rusher with 1,965 yards while leading the team in passing both his junior and senior years.

He was named All-Big Sky Conference, honorable mention, both his junior and senior years and on Nov. 11, 2011, set a conference record for career yards rushing by a quarterback. That year, PSU finished 7-4 overall and 5-3 in league for third place. Kavanaugh later graduated with a degree in finance.

Rather than try his hand at professional football, he instead founded Palladio, a company that focuses on providing financial planning and access to information to people with disabilities.

“I knew it was time for me to step away from the game and begin to give back and redefine myself in something other than sports,” said Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh’s company has been highly successful, working with 800 families in five states over the course of four years.

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