Chase McGrath (Mater Dei), who currently holds an offer from Army, came out on top of a very talented group of SoCal Kickers to claim the title at the 11th Annual Head to Head Kicking Competition. Like champions of the past, McGrath got hot at the right time as he was the 4th seed entering the elimination round and won all 6 of his matches. In the Semi Final, he beat 2012 All American and #1 seed Griff Amies (CDM/Rocky Mountain College) 6-5. Griff has made the Semi Final or Final in 7 of the 8 years he has participated. McGrath won the title by beating last year’s Rising Star’s champion Ryan Brosnan (Trabuco Hills) in a very close final. Brosnan who rarely misses in these competitions, knocked off the #3 seed and 2015 All-County kicker, Hayden McGinnis (Tesoro/Boise St), strong legged Junior to be Dylan Brady (Santa Margarita) in the Qtrs and the best kicker in the South Bay, Trevor Bowens (Redondo) in the Semis. Bowens, was able to knock off last year’s South Bay kicker of the year Kyle Coale (Palos Verdes/Western Ill) as coale suffered a quad injury. Coale had a great performance throughout the competition and also made the Punt finals. Bowens, then pulled a major upset by beating the #2 seed and strongest leg in the competition Daniel Bjurman (CDM/OCC) before losing to Brosnan. For the 2nd year in a row, Clay Eggeman (Capo Valley) performed well and won his group before being eliminated by McGrath in the Qtrs. McGrath is now eligible to be nominated for WCKA’s Hall of Fame once he graduates.
The group stage was extremely competitive and it took consistency in all 3 rounds to advance to the elimination portion.
The Rising Stars Division, featured a solid group of up and coming kickers from all over Orange County. The competition was won by soon to be 9th grader RJ Lopez of Mater Dei. RJ showed great consistency, connecting on 32-36 FG’s throughout the competition and was hot at the right time heading into the elimination round as the #2 seed after the group stage.
RJ had to overcome some major hurdles on his way to the title. In the Semi Final, he was matched up with his older, more seasoned brother Nick, who will be a Sophomore at Mater Dei this Fall after completing a successful Freshman year. It was a fierce battle, as neither brother wanted to lose. RJ didn’t miss….. Winning 6-5. Expect big things from Nick Lopez in the future. In the final, RJ took on fellow Trinity rival and incoming 9th grader from Santa Margarita, Connor Bane. Bane, who has one of the biggest legs in his age group, hit some of the best balls of the competition. In the end, RJ’s consistency was too much, as he did not miss on his way to the title.
The only kicker to beat RJ in the competition was fellow incoming 9th grader at Mater Dei, Jake Moos. Jake won in sudden death during the group stage and faced off with Nick Lopez in the Qtrs, coming out of with Nick winning on the last kick.…… The future is bright at Mater Dei in the kicking department.
The top seed coming out of the group stage was Jake Woolgar (Laguna Hills) who won all 3 of his matches before losing to Porter Watson in the Qtrs. Other outstanding performances throughout the competition from a group of talented young kickers who will play Varsity this Fall were Joey Rizkallah (Tesoro), Brendan Marmion (Aliso Niguel) and Mason Holmes (Mission Viejo).
This was a great group of solid young kickers who will definitely be ready in the Fall to compete for starting positions and will make a name for themselves in the future.
Great day of training last Sunday as we prepare for the 2015 season. A little recap of what we covered so you can review before your first game.
Communicate with your Coach – Your leg needs to be fresh every game day. Do not over kick throughout the week. You are just like a pitcher in baseball… A tired leg will lead to bad technique and injury. Let your coach know if you need rest. He may not like to hear it, but if you are injured, you can’t help your team. Before each game let your coach know what he can expect out of you with the wind and into the wind. “Coach, I can make a 55 yarder with the wind, but only 45 into it. Coach, I can’t get the ball to the endzone into the wind.” This will help him make decisions in the game and put you in a situation to be successful.
The Mental Approach – Studies have shown that visualization techniques can increase performance when done on a consistent basis. Practice visualizing yourself in successful situations. The key to this practice is that you imagine as many details as possible…. What does the stadium look like? How does the crowd sound? What does the grass smell like? How does the wind feel against your face? Put yourself in game like conditions in your mind. Start with being on the sideline and running onto the field, get your spot, take your steps, see your target, take a deep breath, feel the rhythm and timing of your approach, see the ball contact and follow through, finish with the ball splitting the uprights.
Controlling your Anxiety – the body has an evolutionary mechanism that keeps us alive and away from danger called the Fight or Flight response, otherwise known as the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. When we are in a stressful performance situation our thought process will put us in this state automatically. We must learn to calm our mind and body to allow technique and muscle memory to take over.
1st-BREATH, taking deep breaths will slow down your heart rate and relax muscles.
2nd-Let yourself get nervous. Your body can only stay in the fight or flight stage for so long. Don’t fight the fear, let it in and get past it.
3rd-Release negative energy by yelling, smiling, laughing.
4th-Focus on the positive or on the process. Do not let negative thoughts or results take over.
5th-Learn to channel the positive effects of the Adrenaline that is released during stressful situations. This ability will allow you to have greater focus and strength.
Timing from Snap to Kick – your goal should be from 1.3-1.4 seconds from the time your snapper snaps to the time you kick the ball. *In college and the pros they shoot for 1.25 seconds, but the snappers and holders are obviously much better*. Getting the kick off in under 1.4 seconds should be sufficient to avoid blocks provided your o-line does their job.
Watch the holder’s fingers that are on the block. When his fingers move to catch the snap, you start your steps to the ball. This is a reaction that needs to be trained and you need multiple reps daily to train yourself to keep your rhythm to the ball.
Kickoffs – Make sure you have discussed with your coach what exactly he is expecting of you… (Pooch, squib, onside, deep kicks) so that you can prepare yourself for any situation that may arise. Don’t forget to work on onside kicks at least once a week. It could win your team a game. Talk to your coach about your coverage responsibility on kickoffs and make sure you are confident in your tackling technique if the situation should arise.
Punts – Work on your drops every day, especially when you have free time during practice. Practice punting into the wind as well as with, to get a feel for the differences in your drop. Work on your timing from snap to kick daily. Your goal should be to get it off under 2.3 seconds from snap to kick provided your snapper gets it to you under .9 seconds. Work on special situations (Bad snaps, Snaps over your head, punting from out of your endzone). Lastly, Pooch punting is key to field position. My college coach used to always tell us that the 19 was better than the 20….. Meaning, do not punt the ball into the endzone for a touchback.
You have worked hard this offseason. You are ready to perform and help your team. Have confidence in what you do and remember to enjoy every opportunity that you get. Focus on what you are doing (process) and not the outcome. See yourself being successful and learn from the kicks that don’t go as planned, focus on the next kick. Regardless of how you perform, you parents, teammates and the whole WCKA staff are proud of your dedication to getting better. Kicking is not easy, it takes a lot of mental and emotional strength. We are looking forward to hearing about all your success this year and helping you work through any issues that may arise.
After training with West Coast Kicking Academy for 6 years, I became a High School 1st Team All-American my senior year at Corona Del Mar High School, connecting on a state record 22 FG’s and helping our team win a CIF championship at Angel Stadium.
It was the only year I was able to to play Varsity Football and was fortunate to play on a good team with caring coaches. I didn’t know what to expect, but the year turned out to be better than I could have imagined! In the first game, I connected on a 52 yard FG, a couple weeks later, I made 4 Fg’s against our crosstown rival. As the season progressed, a steady confidence came over me, I knew the field goal would be good before I even kicked the ball. At one point connecting on 16 straight FG’s.
It season wasn’t all perfect however, there were some hurdles to overcome. During a short stretch midway through the season, I went into a slump and missed a few kicks. Fortunately, I had coaches and teammates that were positive and uplifting. I remembered to go back to the basics and trust the technique that I had worked on with West Coast Kicking Academy. Back in rhythm during the playoffs, my season was capped off by making a 42 yard FG in the CIF Final at Angel Stadium. I’ll never forget that experience. Most importantly, we won the game!
Being selected All-American was a dream that I never would have thought possible and an honor that will stay with me forever. It’s very humbling.
I owe a great deal of my success to the years of training with West Coast Kicking Academy. You will not find coaches who care about you not just as an athlete, but an everyday person, more than Brad Bohn and his staff, full of college and NFL experience as well. They not only improved my technique and skills of becoming a better kicker, they have led me to become a better person. They've prepared me for not just to succeed on the football field, but succeed in all aspects of life. Having trained with Brad Bohn and his staff at the camp, I've come to trust their technique and work ethic they've taught me and used it on and off the field.
What it is like to be the mom of a kicker? For me, it's 90% amazing, 5% frustrating and 5% nauseating. I will forever treasure the Sunday's I have spent driving to and from Saddleback or OCC and shagging more balls in 3 years than I would have ever thought possible. Depending on the day, the drive can either be full of laughs or very, very quite but either way I wouldn't trade it for anything. As my family will all tell you, it's very hard for me to watch them kick in a game. I keep hoping it will get easier, not sure it will but I love every minute of it.
When this journey started, I had no idea where to find a kicking coach. John Baxter, former USC Special Teams Coach, recommended Brad, Alan and West Coast Kicking. The boys have been training with them since. I know when they walk on the field they are as prepared as they can be, even if they miss:). The growth they have achieved, the friends they have made and they coaching they have had is amazing! It has been a great ride, one that I am thankful for everyday and I hope it continues for many more years.
Shari Coale, Mother of Kyle and William Coale
Just last night my son, Sebastian, and I returned from a trip to Seattle where my he had a meeting with University of Washington's Special Teams coach. I have never had a better Mother's Day experience than that wondrous culmination of all of my experiences as a mother watching him doing his kicking work from the high school football stadium stands.
My son would certainly not ever have dreamed of an outcome like this, and thoughts of him possibly playing Division 1 Football never would have crossed my mind as he was growing up.
Sebastian was a soccer player from a very young age, and never had any football experience. The kind of serendipity he experienced one day after soccer practice at Beckman High School, the summer before his freshman year, is simply amazing. Walking near the practice field, he happened to meet Coach Brad Bohn from West Coast Kicking Academy, who was working that year as the Freshman Football Head Coach, in addition to his Special Teams coaching work. Coach Bohn encouraged Sebastian to try football, and when the answer was 'I'm a soccer player', he asked Sebastian to kick a football toward a distant fence. After seeing that first ball hit the fence, Coach Bohn invited Sebastian to join the freshman team as Kicker. Coach Bohn took Sebastian immediately under his extraordinary Special Teams wing, and began training.
Due to the incredibly professional level of technique training that Sebastian received from Coach Bohn and West Coast Kicking Academy, his success on the field was almost immediate. Sebastian performed as if he were a seasoned Kicker, not like one who had just begun learning 6 weeks prior. During his sophomore year, on the Varsity team, Sebastian broke school records, and continued to improve for two more years under the consistent training and mentorship of West Coast Kicking staff. During all four years sitting in the stands watching Sebastian play, I cannot adequately express the mixed emotions of extreme pride, happiness, and nervousness at the key moments when all eyes were on my son, and with success or failure he potentially could be altering his future in ways which will not be known for years to come. Most of all I am thankful to have been able to watch my sweet little boy growing up to be a respectful young man of solid character and quiet strength which allows him to pursue his dreams, mindful that the possibilities are limitless.
I always wanted to have a chance to kick a game winning field goal. It's every kicker's dream. The same way a baseball player hopes to hit a walk-off home run, or a basketball player make a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Deep down I always had a feeling I would get my shot, but heading into my last collegiate game at Boise State it had yet to occur.
I had been training with West Coast Kicking Academy since the summer in between my 7th and 8th grade year. Due to my size, I knew I could not kick with all the bombers and had to place a premium on accuracy. Training with Brad and Alan Bohn gave me confidence. They were teaching me the same technique that Brad had used to become an All-American at Utah State, and kick a game winner in a NFL game with the Detroit Lions. I looked up to Brad because of his size; if he could do it, then so could I.
Fast forward 9 years. December 22, 2012. Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Sam Boyd Stadium vs the University of Washington. My last collegiate game, and since I had no intentions of playing professional football, the last football game of my career. We got out to a big lead but I knew Washington would make it interesting. They came back to eventually take a one point lead with just over 2 minutes left. I knew this was going to come down to me. A big kick return set us up with good field position and I immediately went to my kicking net to start practicing. The ball was on the same side of the field as my net so I had to deal with my teammates crowding around me, television cameras in my face; they too were anticipating a game winning attempt.
When one of our coaches came up to me and asked me where I wanted the ball, I told him I wanted it on the right hash. It was the hash we always practiced on during our "clutch" period in practice. It was where I felt most comfortable. I knew they were setting me up to do my thing.
We ran the ball three times to the right hash and our Special Teams coach called out, "Blue Money, Blue Money," signaling the field goal team on to the field.
Washington called time out. They were icing me. I began my visualization techniques that I had developed over the years.
I trotted out on to the field, the crowd was buzzing. Half cheering for me, the other half jeering against me. This is what I wanted. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. Who wouldn't be? But once I marked my spot on the turf and my holder did the same, everything got quiet. The noise lessened. The goal posts became more clear. I was in my zone. So many times before at training sessions on Sundays with WCKA or at practices in Boise, I had gone through this routine. The situation didn't change anything. I had to trust my technique. Brad and Alan had reiterated this to me growing up and it was fitting that it all came to fruition at this moment.
I took my steps. Three back, two over. Eyed my spot on the turf. Eyed my target, then eyed my spot again. I took a deep breath, shook out the tension in my shoulders and nodded to my holder.
Snap. Hold. Kick.
Right when I hit it I knew I made it. I kept my eyes back, followed through, and looked up just as the ball hit its peak. I didn't even see the split the uprights. I immediately put my fist in the air and turned to my holder. He stuck his hand out and gave me a high five.
Then the mayhem ensued. The linemen swarmed me. My holder head-butted me. Then I jogged off to the sideline to see my teammates in a frenzy.
The game ended and my teammates picked me up on their shoulders and chanted my name.
The fans came out onto the field and I was able to see my family and friends. My parents and sister were crying. It was so surreal, and a moment and feeling I will never forget.
Training with WCKA prepared me for this moment like no other kicking coach, or institution could. There's a reason they have the word 'Academy' in their name. They teach young men about the art of kicking, and all that goes with it. Brad, Alan and staff are one of a kind. I wouldn't have developed into the kicker I became without them.
Is It Enough? After having an All-American season as a Sophomore, followed up by a subpar Junior season, my Senior season was enough to get me looked at by multiple NFL teams.
Right Place/Right Time Following the conclusion of my Senior season, I was blessed to be named Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year, an award handed out at a banquet in Anaheim during the Conference’s basketball tournament. Big problem…Utah State Football Pro Day was the exact same time. It was a tough decision to pass on the banquet, but my dad was there to accept the honor.
Pro Day – 1st Job Interview March 8th 2001 – There were several coaches in attendance at Utah State’s Indoor Facility. After we were measured (5’6”7/8, 187lbs), did our bench max (225 x 16) and ran our 40s (4.61, 4.71) a few of the scouts stuck around to watch me kick.
I had practiced and prepared 9 years for this opportunity.
The workout was 10 FG’s of varying lengths (30-55). I connected on 9-10 (both 55 yarders).
Next up, Kickoff session. 3 Kickoffs…. All around 69-73 yards with 4.1+ hang time.
It must have been enough for them to know if I was NFL Caliber.
At the conclusion of the session, the Detroit Lions scout told me they were going to sign me on draft day. However, for the next two month, I heard nothing from them or any other team. This left me with a sense of uncertainty.
Draft Day Woke up around 6:30 A.M. to shower hoping I not to miss calls from Special Teams Coordinators. After getting out of the shower, there was a message from the Cincinnati Bengals saying they wanted to sign me as a Free Agent. I called back… No Answer! Fortunately I had an agent for these types of situations. The draft hadn’t started, but we were off to a good start.
Phone is Ringing Sometime in the middle of the 6th round the Detroit Lions finally called. Basically said, “You aren’t getting drafted today, we are going to sign you as a Free Agent; we are offering you X amount as a signing bonus and are faxing the contract over right now.” I spoke with my agent, who told me it was a better offer than the Bengals and that Coach Priefer (Sp. Teams Co.) was a stand-up guy that will keep his word about letting me get field action.
Done Deal To my surprise, the process was basically over before the draft was. I waited till the end of the draft, signed the contract, faxed it back and headed to the golf course with my buddies. There was a definite sense of relief, accomplishment and anticipation the rest of the night. I had heard about players being signed as Free Agents and being released before they even made it up to camp, so I still had some anxiety.
Reflection I was very fortunate to get a scholarship to play at Utah State. A lot of hard work went into developing my technique and ability. With the support of family, coaches and teammates, I had an opportunity to turn a dream into reality.