the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

D3 Special - Sometimes Less is More, part 2

The second part of our Q&A with D3 specialists continues with more responses from senior kickers and punters to the following question:
Looking back over your college career, how was the experience of playing specialist for a small school?
Joshua Kay, Linfield College
"The small school culture is an invaluable experience I have cherished and made the best of. Though our resources are few compared to bigger schools such as Oregon just down the road a couple hours, we pride ourselves in doing more with less. Linfield has coined the term , "The power of a small college." The brotherhood, the closeness of our team with our institution, the personal nature of it all is wonderful. I had a few opportunities to go big out of high school, one being Oregon State, but I wouldn't change my decision for anything."

Sean Williams, Wittenberg
"Being at a small school helps me remain closer to my team. Throughout the off-season, I run and lift with my teammates and that helps me create bonds within my team. That also helps a lot when it comes to the support you are given on the field. Having worked out with my teammates, they see how hard I work and therefore have confidence in me and support me when I may miss a kick."

Chad Blair, Wisconsin - River Falls
"I thought being a kicker for a small school was really a great time. Everyone on the team treated me with respect even though I wasnt as big and strong or practice as long and hard as they did. My time I spent as a River Falls specialist was just an all around good time because your teammates become your brothers for life."

Allen Cain, Texas Lutheran
"My experience over the past four years has been nothing short of amazing! I have been blessed to have the opportunity to grow as a student, a player, but more importantly, as a man. Thanks to the coaching staff and faculty at TLU I have been able to have a collegiate experience so personal and intimate that is rarely experienced at larger universities. I originally chose TLU for the opportunity to play football, but what I gained through that decision was much more than I could have ever imagined."

Brandon Matznick, Wisconsin-Stevens Point
"My experience here at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point was amazing and is something I will cherish forever. I felt a deeper connection with my teammates and coaches on and off the field. Thinking about it, I'm not so sure that I would have had the same connection if I would have attended a larger university. The only thing I disliked was not having a specialist coach. It would have been awesome to get feedback from a coach who understands the kicking game more in depth than always trying to get feedback from one of the position coaches. Other than that, it's be a great privilege and honor and I could have not made a more better decision than to play at a small university."

Mike Malisheski, John Carroll
"I thought it was a good experience at least for myself. I had the opportunity to go to big schools (for academics) with a shot to walk-on the team. The problem there is that the coaches and scouts have no idea who you are or your potential. I would have most likely rode the bench for a while before coaches would know what to expect out of me. At John Carroll, they recruited me and I knew they had a JV squad that played full 10 game seasons. Knowing I wasn't likely to start as a freshman, I was fine with that knowing I could still punt JV. I split time my freshmen year and punted in 5 JV games and was the only JV punter my sophomore year and kicked all 10 games. I finally started junior year for varsity and kept my spot for senior year as well. I think kicking here is a lot like big schools. We don't have a kicking coach, just special teams coaches who try to improve on our own style of kick. They don't try to change your mechanics, they simply improve from what you're doing. A lot of work ia done behind the coaches eyes during practice as well as the off season (by going to camps and so forth). My coaches were a little hard on me and sometimes made no sense whatsoever, but I realized it was because they saw my true potential as the top kicker in our conference.
One thing that was hard to deal with was the fan base. I think I would be able to feed off of more energy and the D3 level lacks that for the most part. My best games were against teams (home or away) with a high attendance. Though it is a small school, we are in the toughest conference in all of Division 3 and are reminded of that every day we go out there."

Josh Storm, Randolph-Macon College
"Coming out of high school, I was not highly recruited. I was looking forward to getting recruiting but was soon disappointed in the process. Randolph-Macon was one of the few schools that showed a high interest in me. After I met the coaching staff, toured the campus, and saw the chemistry of the football team, I knew RMC was for me. The main reason I was interested in RMC was my immediate chance to enter and compete for a starting job. From day one, I competed and was fortunate to win a starting job. It is hard to gain respect as a kicker, let alone a kicker on a small division three team, but our program is different. Everyone is respected and everyone has a relationship with everyone. These past four years have been absolutely amazing. 
I could go on and on about the memories I've made, but there are a select few memories and lessons I learned that will last with me forever. My teammates will be my friends for life; they are essentially my brothers. I have learned the true meaning of hard work, dedication, integrity, and discipline while I have been a part of the RMC football team. I learned that I can be my own worst enemy, while also being my own best friend. I have learned how to be more of a leader on and off the field. I've learned how to live with disappointment and to humbly enjoy success. I've been blessed with great teammates, great coaches, and a great family. I couldn't have asked for a better four years. I've been blessed to do the thing I love the most. Being able to kick at RMC has been great. It's been fun to be such an integral part of the team. And while attendance to our games were similar to the high school games I played in on Friday nights, I still got butterflies and goosebumps every Saturday. The intensity and magnitude of each game remained high, and while I never played in front of tens of thousands of people, the atmosphere still felt as if we did. Also, I was a part of "The Game", the oldest rivalry in the south; for 118 years we have competed against Hampden-Sydney. To be a part of that historic rivalry is such a great experience. Ten thousand people packed into a small stadium to watch a rivalry of such magnitude was an amazing experience. I could go on and on, but those memories are the ones that will last."

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