the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, March 4, 2013

Specialists Comment on Lauren Silberman's NFL Tryout

As the first female to signup to tryout  for the NFL, the former soccer player gained widespread media attention over the past few weeks. But yesterday's regional combine certainly didn't go as Lauren Silberman had hoped. Her tryout began and ended with two short kickoffs and an aggravated quadriceps injury.
"They certainly didn't go as far as they were in practices, but I tried to work through the pain. I tried staying off it and waited for today," she said. "I didn't even take kicks in warm-ups, and, it's pretty hard to know that you'll be in pain, and I wanted to work through it and I certainly tried to, but I just couldn't do it today.

I've always been an athlete, and I've always been a gamer. When I had the opportunity to be in the NFL, one of the world's most competitive leagues, I absolutely had to take the chance.... I'm just really happy I had this amazing experience. I might be the first woman trying out for the NFL, but I certainly hope I'm not the last."
Various kickers and punters have weighed in with their thoughts on the story. Katie Hnida has football kicking experience at all levels - from high school to college at New Mexico (where she became the first woman to score in D1) to professional (most recently with the Fort Wayne Firehawks of the CIFL).
"Her performance does not have to do with her gender. It has to do with her experience and her preparation. Unfortunately, what's going to happen now is she's going to be looked at (as inferior) because she was female....

I also find it curious she didn't warm up. You never go in kicking cold. There's a reason why the kickers are the first people out there. It takes us a while to warm up....

It is disappointing. I hoped she would go out and do justice for an NFL tryout, because there are lots of people who have dreamed of going to the NFL. It should be something serious."
Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts punter, NFL
I could train my mother, who has never kicked a thing except my ass a few times, for about 37 minutes and have her kick farther than 13 yds.

I'm all about ladies trying out.. Why not? But last week she said "I'm hoping to kick those 60s.. 60 yarders".. I was excited 2 see it....  Plenty of folks in the league who can't hit from 60.. Was excited to welcome our 1st lady to the 60+ club... 13 yards.. Hold on.
Stefan Demos, San Antonio Talons kicker, AFL
"It's a joke. It was a publicity stunt to promote her business. If there is a female that has the talent to play in the NFL one day then I am all for it. To have her kick two kickoffs that went less than 40 yards total is a complete embarrassment. It really is sad though, because her media circus could have distracted guys that were there that had legitimate chances of doing well."
Coach Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
"She wasted the time and eyeballs/opportunities for real prospects who have worked their entire lives for one chance in front of NFL Scouts. It is the dream of many aspiring kickers to play in the NFL and we all know how difficult it is. This is not an opportunity that should be wasted and just given to anyone to make a joke of. And no, I don’t say this was a complete joke because she's a girl, I say these things because she couldn’t kick the ball farther than a five year old and there was never a real chance of her getting taken seriously. This spectacle or publicity stunt (or whatever you want to call it) wasted the time of the scouts and took away exposure opportunities from worthwhile combine participants who had a real shot at a dream. I hope the NFL never allows this kind of thing to happen again in the future."
FilipFilipovic, The Kicking Coach
"This whole spectacle was very insulting to:
1. 32 NFL kickers - 32 best people in the world at what they do.
2. Every real female kicker who spent years working on her skills.
3. Every person in the world who put serious time, effort and resources toward a goal that was meaningful to them. 
She was quoted saying that she hopes to "inspire" others to try out. Well, I hoped that she "inspired" every parent who read this story to teach their kids that if you dream big without working hard, people will laugh at you - just like they did at Laura Silberman. As far as the tryout itself - 2 kicks under 20 yards...everyone who saw her first blurry video...where she looks like a below average middle school kicker...knew that her performance would be a spectacular train wreck."
Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter, CFL
"Being frank, I cannot figure out why anybody thinks they can kick in general, never mind in arguably one of the most exclusive talent pools in all of sport. It's unfortunate these kicking sideshows receive more wide spread attention than the many qualified candidates with actual playing experience."
Julie Harshbarger, Kane County Dawgs kicker, CIFL
"Lauren Silberman’s attempt to follow her life-long dream in playing in the NFL was very brave. Unfortunately, injuries happen and I wish her a speedy recovery. I was rooting for her, not only for her sake as a future NFL player, but for all women who wish to compete at a higher level.

I have been a place-kicker on a men’s football team since my freshman year of high school. I played all 4 years in high school and 3 years of D3 football. I am now 27 and have made it as far as winning a starting role for a men’s Semi-Professional Outdoor football team (the Roscoe Rush in the Mid States Football League) as well as starting for a Professional Indoor football team in the Continental Indoor Football League.

It has taken me many years and lots of practice to get to where I am today. It is not easy at this level to gain respect and trust from coaches and teammates as a female athlete in their male dominated sport, especially when there is a lot of hype backing the situation. As far as this goes, I feel that Lauren did not help this cause. Because of her dismal performance/tryout, some may now compare her skills to other future female prospect athletes.

Hopefully Lauren can recover from her pulled quad and get back to working on her “technique”. If she gets her kicking form down, hopefully she will be able to increase her hang time with distance and maybe get closer to those 60 yarders.

I am thankful that Lauren had the opportunity to be courageous and show the rest of us females that we can at least be seen and have a shot at making it to the NFL. However, as the first female to try out, I wish that she would have thought about the precedent that she would be setting for all female athletes. I hope other women, including myself, will still have the opportunity that she had."
See part 2 for still more comments.


Vincent Pagazza said...

I would say the same about any male that performed the same as Lauren Silberman. Absolute insult to the kicking athletes at this level!

Specialists - kickers at this level are exceptional athletes, they make it look easy!

Kickers have evolved and the fans today know this, this is a major set back in my opinion to the days of old. Shame on the Stephen Austin director at the NFL regional combine, they took this publicity stunt to far!

Anonymous said...

My son is 12 and a kicker on his team last year. He played goalkeeper and right half in soccer but after he got too big to keep up with the speedy soccer kids he started to play football. I told his coach that he could kick and the coach looked at him and said..."we need him on the line, we're good with kickers". after the first game a Silberman-like performance by the kickers on our team, we started to go to practice 45 min early so he could practice kick-offs FGs and punting on his own. the other kickers would show up to practice and jump in. Soon the coaches would get there and they would "take over" from me working with them and "help" them. Well after they saw my boy kick, they he quickly began splitting the duties and then was the starting kicker. He wound up 20/21 on PATs, 5/5 on FG (28-35 yrds) and had 2 touchbacks and a TD saving tackle. We are going to a Kicking world camp in April and we have had lessons from a retired NFL kicker that lives in my neighborhood. He has worked very hard to be a good kicker and wants to kick at least in high school, maybe in college.

I only tell the story because telling a couch or scout you can kick, doesn't make it so. She may have thought she could and perhaps the injury affected her but her technigue was not good. The whole effort was disapointing. I don't care if it's a woman or not! There was no preperation, no focus, no warm up and she was not taking it seriously. It's an insult to kids like mine that had to go out and prove themselves through hard work and assertive attitudes that want to prove themselves.

I hope the next woman that tries out gives it the respect it deserves.

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