Of the positions in the game of football, the performance of the kicker takes the most individual effort, and the pressure put on the kicker often gets overlooked by the simplicity of his task, which is to kick the ball down field or kick it through the uprights. The Guilfordian sat down with sophomore Harrison Kiser, the starting kicker of the Quakers football team.
Q: When did you first start playing football? Were you always a kicker?
A: I first started playing when I was in eighth grade. I wasn’t a kicker, I was actually a receiver. I started kicking, I guess, when I was a freshman in high school.
Q: What is the farthest field goal you have made in your playing career?
A: This year, it was 35 yards. In high school, I made a 45 yarder in a game. In practice, I have hit a couple of 55 and 65 yarders.
Q: What is the hardest part about kicking?
A: The hardest part is the mental focus of it. You know you can get in slumps in games, and you know you can be off in games, so I would say the toughest part is having a positive mind on every kick and focusing on one kick at a time.
Q: How is your position viewed on the team? Is everyone supportive?
A: I would say everybody is really supportive. You know when the game comes down to the line, the kicker needs to make the winning points.
Q: What are practices like for you without a formal position coach for kicking?
A: Without a coach, you have to find ways to practice yourself. So we will go out and hit a couple of balls and kind of take it easy on our legs because if you kick more in practice, you are going to wear out your legs and not be healthy for Saturdays.
Q: What is your routine for a field goal?
A: It is the same routine as every kick. I go out on the field and envision the ball going through the uprights, so I take every kick as the same kick for every one I do.
Q: Who is your holder and how is that relationship?
A: (Senior punter) Chase Mitchell. I guess it is a trust thing, so you know I have a lot of trust in him. I have had some snaps that have been kind of iffy, and he has been there to get them down. Having a trusting relationship with your holder is really good.
Q: What is your mentality before a big kick?
A: I guess you kind of have to block out everything. You can’t let the crowd or the adversity hit you. So you’ve got to take every kick like it is the same one. Just really zone in on each one.
Q: What do you do when the other team ices you (calls a timeout)?
A: That hasn’t happened yet. If it did happen, I would try to keep calm. They ice you because after you warm up, you go out on the field, ready to kick. But with icing, they try to mess up your routine. You have to have the same routine as you have going on the field. If you think of it in a different way, it gives you an opportunity to relax yourself and focus on the kick.
Q: Have you ever made a game-winning or tying field goal?
A: My senior year in high school. We were down by two with a minute left, and I made it a field goal to advance to the semifinals in state playoffs. That was a really cool experience.
Q: To me, being a kicker is very mental and requires mental toughness. What mental tricks or tips do you use during games to stay sharp?
A: You can’t think in the past. You’ve just got to think about the next kick that you are doing because that next kick is going to define who you are. So if you are going to go miss one, come out the next one and make it. Then you are going to have a positive thought going into the next ones.
Q: Have you ever been in a slump when you are missing everything? How do you get past that?
A: If you are in a slump, you just can’t think about the previous kicks. You just have to move on and focus. And really envision the next one being successful with the attempt. And having your teammates’ support is also a big key as well.
Q: What is a typical practice like for you?
A: Each day you do something different. Monday’s we will go out, and the first thing we do is field goals. I’ll probably hit about 10 live reps on field goals, and we will have the whole team behind me kind of trying to simulate it like a game. So that is really helpful because it is helping me practice for Saturdays, so I enjoy that a lot. After that, it is pretty easy. You know we will go over there, and just kind of work on things that we needed to work on in the previous game that we thought we could improve on.
Q: What is one thing that you would like the Guilford community to know about you as a kicker on or off the field?
A: Just being a kicker, we still have a role on the team. We are not the guys who get away with the hard stuff. We are a part of the team, and we try to help the team win ball games when we are needed.
Q: What year are you? How were you recruited to Guilford College?
A: I’m a sophomore now. I was recruited my senior year by coach Z. He reached out to me through high school, you know, I came on some visits. And we both built a good relationship with each other. I thought he was a really good coach and then also coach Rusiewicz built a great bond with me. So I enjoyed and liked the view they had on coaching and stuff, and that is how I committed here.
Q: Where did you go to high school?
A: I went to Page high school.
Q: How is kicking in college different than kicking in high school?
A: I would say the speed and tempo of it and size. You know, high school guys are out there on a field goal team and field goal block that aren’t really good. Going into college, everybody’s really good, and obviously the speed and size is a lot different compared to high school.
Q: What are you majoring in?
A: Yeah, my major is business administration and my minor is in sports administration.
Q: How have you balanced football responsibilities and academics?
A: Being a student athlete is basically a job. You have to mentally balance out both practice and school. We have practice in the morning time, so that helps us out a lot with academics. We will have practice out of the way. Basically from 11 a.m. to whenever we go to bed is our academic time. So it is tough balancing it out but you have to find a way every day to get the work done.
Q: If you could kick from anywhere on the field where would you have it placed?
A: I guess left. You know the natural motion is the ball traveling left, and your leg swings left, so that is the most common motion. I would prefer the left.