Kick To Victory


Looking down at his bright green cleats, senior Jeremy Gonzalez focuses on the football in front of him, preparing for the big kick. With a roar from the student section, the ball goes flying. To his surprise, the ball isn’t soaring towards a net—rather, a rectangular goalpost that towers over the field. Gonzalez, this year’s new kicker for varsity football, accepted the position despite his initial lack of football knowledge. 

“I’d never played football before; I’ve played soccer all of my life. So my position as kicker came at a shock to me and everybody else since I’d never played another sport,” Gonzalez said. 

When offered the position by head coach Keith Ellison due to the amount of injuries the current kickers had, Gonzalez originally “wasn’t interested.”

“A week went by [before] I followed up with Coach Ellison. He brought me out to come and train with him and then I started enjoying it,” Gonzalez said. 

To make that last decision between the two final kickers, Ellison had to look past the kicking itself, but more into the aspects of the candidates’ mentalities. 

“We went with Jeremy because we felt more comfortable with the confidence we got from him,” Ellison said.

The opportunity not only offered Gonzalez something different to embark on, but also an outlet to cultivate new friendships with his teammates. 

“It allows another person to experience the team that we have here. It’s not all about just playing football, but also being in the brotherhood and doing things as a team outside of the game,” said defensive back Matthew Shamburg. 

After training alongside the team, Gonzalez officially assumed his role during the third game of the season against El Segundo. At this point, the Flock held the title of best student section in Southern California and accumulated one of the largest crowds it had ever seen. Upon stepping on the field that first game, Gonzalez felt “shaken” as he confronted the massive quantity of people. 

“The soccer team doesn’t really get that many fans so that was kind of a shock to me. I was a little nervous, but once I had my first kick, it felt normal,” Gonzalez said. 

The “normalcy” in which he felt on a soccer field easily translated into games at the Seahawk Bowl. According to Gonzalez, although football is new to him, his position allows him to stay true to his roots. While put under the pressure of ensuring a field goal or an extra point, he “doesn’t feel as though there’s a big difference” when preparing to kick, except for the “slight technical differences, like the shape of the ball or the height of the goalpost.”

“If I’m gonna be completely honest, I don’t know any of the plays, I just go out and kick it,” Gonzalez said. 

Although Gonzalez doesn’t find kicking a football different from a soccer ball, Ellison helped Gonzalez adjust the mechanics of his kick to fit the needs of the game. 

“In soccer during a free kick or corner kick, you have your steps down and no one’s really trying to block you. In football, that ball has to get off the ground in about 1.4 seconds,” Ellison said. 

In addition, it’s the kicker’s job to provide the last line of defense during kickoff.

“He’s taught to get in the way of the returner and make sure that he slows him down enough so that other players can tackle him [the returner],” Shamburg said. 

Since Gonzalez is still more accustomed to soccer, the training that Ellison and the rest of the football staff provided was “essential.” Over the course of seven games during the season, his extra training helped Gonzalez successfully kick twenty out of twenty-one attempts for the post-touchdown point and make a three point field goal. 

With football wrapping up their season after this year’s CIF playoffs, Gonzalez will take the field again during the winter for soccer season. For now, he’s “looking forward” to playing in CIF. 

“We have a great team, and a great coach. Coach Ellison does a great job motivating the players. So I feel like with that motivation, we’re making strides and hopefully we’re going to end the season very well,”  Gonzalez said.