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From underappreciated to being a game hero

by Ben Fraser October 24, 2017
From underappreciated to being a game hero

Kicker Andrew Stevens shares his secret to success in his position

In football, the kicker is a very underappreciated position. This season, the kicker on the Concordia Stingers football team, Andrew Stevens, is changing that idea.

Stevens, a native of Port Stanley, Ont., is currently playing in his second season for the Stingers while pursuing a degree in religious studies. He plays a position which is often overlooked in football.

“I think kickers make it or break it for football teams,” Stevens said when asked about the role he plays on the team. He said being a kicker comes with its fair share of ups and downs, but when it comes time to kick that game-winning field goal, the team really understands how much a kicker’s performance matters.

Stevens is coming off a season where even he criticized his performance. As the backup kicker behind former Stinger Patrick Mills on the roster last season, Stevens had most of the punting duties but still went 4/7 on field goals and 2/2 on extra point attempts (PATs). But he learned from his mistakes.

“It made me want to do double the work I normally do on a daily basis,” Stevens said. “I just work hard and do my job at the end of the day on the football field.”

Stevens’s hard work in the off-season has come to fruition this year. In the second game of the season, against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, Stevens converted all five of his field goal attempts, including the game-winning field goal. He was named the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Special Teams Player for his performance.

Andrew Stevens

Andrew Stevens kicks the ball on a kick-off against the McGill Redmen. Photo by Liam Mahoney.

“I was speechless,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think other than just, ‘you did your job.’”

His performance against the Vert et Or wasn’t an exception—Stevens has been accurate on his kicks almost all season. He has hit 14 out of 16 of his total field goals this season and made all of his PATs.

Even with his personal success, Stevens credits many of his triumphs to Stingers kicking coach Gerry McGrath.

“I have one of the best kicking coaches in the nation,” Stevens said. “He told me, ‘You don’t think, let your mind take over.’” Stevens explained that McGrath taught him how to visualize the perfect field goal and taught him that, with a clear head, “you picture the perfect ball flight, and you just blank your mind.”

Stevens explained there is no set way to kick the ball. “It’s all mental,” he said. “I’ve done it so many times, it’s become muscle memory.”

Though Stevens is only in his second season with the Stingers, he has thought about his future in football. Playing in the Canadian Football League (CFL) is something he would love to pursue, but at the moment, he is happy where he is.

“I’m very humble and eager to show that I deserve [to be here],” Stevens said. He loves the game, and he plans to continue playing after he’s done at Concordia. “It would be incredible if I were to be able to play football the rest of my life and make money at it.”

Stevens won’t be draft-eligible for the CFL until after next season, but he said he hopes to attract some attention from scouts. For now, the 19-year-old’s focus remains with the Stingers and on how he can help them win.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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