August 11th 2011, I stood at the 35 yard line in Gillette Stadium with my Kickoff tee in my hand. My very first NFL game was about to start. I told my parents the night before on the phone that I had been waiting for that kickoff my entire life. The umpire handed me the ball, I placed it on the tee and quickly set up. The whistle blew and I began my approach, gradually accelerating toward the ball. I planted and exploded up into the ball with everything I had. I watched as it sailed through the air and finally was caught a few yards out of the end zone for a touchback. As I trotted off the field I looked up to my family and friends with a smile and thought, “Wow how did I get here?”
It was not the easy road, or the path most traveled. There were many times when I could have thrown in the towel. But I wanted to prove that it didn’t matter when I started kicking, it didn’t matter that I was a walk-on, it didn’t matter that I played at a small school. I believed I could do it and set out to prove it. Striving to perfect my craft, I was obsessed with learning everything I could to be the best I could possibly be; mind and body. Never being satisfied with my current situation I was constantly setting, achieving and revising to greater goals along the way. But ultimately I made it to that NFL stage because of hard work, determination and my belief in myself.
This is the story of my journey to the NFL …
Growing up I was not a football player, I spent the majority of my time from a very young age playing soccer and that continued throughout high school. I had a good leg and always seemed to be the kid on my team taking all of the corners and free kicks and enjoyed playing on a very competitive club team. Even though I did not play football, I was always a passionate fan of the game and I wanted to be a part of it. There is something about the way football can bring entire communities together that separates it from the other sports in high school. There is such a distinct energy at a football game, that electric atmosphere was something I craved.
After my varsity soccer season during my junior year at St. Anthony’s High School, I felt that I was burnt out and had lost my desire to continue playing soccer. After speaking with a few friends, I understood that the football team needed a kicker. However, I still wasn’t completely sure if it was a good idea to give up on a sport I had been playing since I was three.
That winter kicker Adam Vinatieri became a star by making two legendary kicks through a blizzard in the NFL playoffs. Vinatieri then went on to kick the game winning field goal to win Super Bowl XXXVI just two weeks after that. I distinctly remember, watching the replay of the game winner from 48 yards over and over again that night, and I thought, “I could do that.” I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to do that. So, having no knowledge of what being a kicker entailed other than what I watched on TV, I decided that I would give football a try my senior year. For some reason I had the trust in myself to figure it out along the way. It ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made.
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