So, how’ve you been?! What have you been up to?
I’ve been good! I’ve been really good. Busy, as usual. Training; football always comes first. I’m also going out and doing stuff within the community, helping kids out; going to Children’s Cancer Center, helping other kickers out from high school and college and helping them train. I’m having a blast.
Is giving back to the community something you put a greater emphasis on during the holidays?
To be honest, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about the holidays, although it’s always a nice thing to give back during this time. I always feel like it’s a year-round thing. You’re always able to give back, you’re always able to do things that you want to do and make others happy while doing it.
Football is an all-consuming sport. How do you make time to get out there in the community while also focusing on your career?
Time management is huge. Being a professional athlete takes a lot out of you, and it is stressful; you find the time by managing it within your football schedule to give back to the community. Within training, football, and for me obviously kicking, I try to manage it by incorporating giving back within that. I’m able to coach younger athletes while still managing to get done what I need to personally; the same thing goes for strength training. It’s very rewarding, because you know that you’re changing those kid’s lives.
Those kids look up to you and see you as a role model. Is that a difficult thing to be when you’re still so young?
It actually makes me happy. I always tell people that you have to do what you love to do; and for me, that’s kicking. In order to do that, I feel like I find myself helping others and giving them an opportunity that I never had. I didn’t play high school football, I didn’t play college football, so knowing that I can help other kids do what I wasn’t able to do, that’s one of the most rewarding things.
So you feel that one of the biggest things you can do is give them access to the sport?
Building off of that, what are your goals both personally and professionally this season?
That’s a great question, and I think we all know the main answer: we want to be better as a team than we were last year. Every year, as a professional athlete, you want to keep getting better and moving forward; I want my field goal percentage to be better, I want my PAT to be better. Not necessarily as many tackles as last year! [laughter] But my main goal professionally is to be AFL Kicker of the Year. And not only that, but doing things through the community and giving back, I’d also like to be honored with the Al Lucas AFL Pulse Hero Award.
Your involvement in the community and willingness to contribute to all aspects of the team has made you a fan-favorite here. Are you embracing that role going into this season?
Of course! My kicking coach, Sam Watts, always tells me to just go out and be the athlete that you are. I’m constantly trying to go out there and be that athlete, whether it’s to force a fumble or make a tackle in addition to making my kicks. So if I can do all of that, I think the fans really appreciate that. I love our fans; we have the best fan base in the league. And being able to give back to them is a great thing.
Part of being the athlete that you are is clearly giving back to others. How do you maintain that high level of quality on and off of the field?
I know where I came from. Like I mentioned before, without having any real background in football growing up, it just means everything to me that they’re going to get that opportunity. I think that’s what makes me want to do it even more; giving kids what I didn’t have is a great feeling.