Well, good news everyone: I got a call back from the Bluegrass Warhorses. I was invited to another tryout coming up on June 29th! That gives me plenty of time to continue my training, get stronger, practice some more kicking, and get mentally prepared to make a better attempt than I did last time. Also, you know what that means: Moar countdown posts!
Days to NEXT tryout: 18
Last week we did a lot of workouts that focused on speed and agility training. It was a pretty rough week; I've never felt so out of shape in my life. Previous times that I've done cardio centric things has been more for endurance than for speed necessarily. I've done sprints obviously, but because of playing midfield in soccer my focus has been on being able to run for a long time, not quickly. The workouts Alex has me going through are kicking my butt. Bungee cord running, working on my 40 time, and uphill sprints let me know just how far I've let the little bit of fitness I had slip away.
This week, Alex and I have to adjust our workout schedule a bit. We've got a lot of scheduling conflicts for the week, but one of the best things about Fit Kentucky is how flexible they can be. Since they specialize with in home workouts, they can be as flexible as need be. We moved our workouts from Tuesday, Thursday, Friday evenings to one Wednesday morning, one Thursday afternoon, and since we can't work anything else out, Alex is giving me a special workout to do over the weekend. I have homework for the first time in years. Apparently we're focusing on core fitness this week. Not sure I can really say I'm looking forward to it, but I can at least say I consistently try my hardest and feel like I've gotten the best workouts from core strengthening days.
Well it's been a pretty crazy week, so I apologize for it taking this long to update you guys on the tryout itself.
Tryouts were last Saturday out at Scott County High School. Originally, the tryouts were to be at Georgetown College's football field, where the Bengals practice facility is. Unfortunately, they decided at the last minute to go with a higher bidder and the Bluegrass Warhorses had to change venues. Scott County High was their backup locale, so off we were to the high school. Luckily they were able to get the change of venue to our stations in time for us to update our promos and plugs.
Saturday morning I got there shortly before 9:00AM to set up ESPN Sports Radio 1300's tent and table. We have a big tent we uncovered not too long ago with ESPN branding, and a nice mesh backdrop with ESPN printed on it. Expect to see that a lot more around town, and definitely at the Warhorses games. We had t-shirts and a couple of ESPN Jeopardy board games we were giving away, but I couldn't very well keep an eye on them while the tryout was going on. Rebecca White, one of our sales people at LM Communications, and our intern Ally were kind enough to show up and help me out. I'm not sure I could have managed to get that tent up without Ally's help.
I suppose word of the venue change got out well enough for most of the potential players to show up; the Warhorses had somewhere between 20-30 guys come out to try out. It was an excellent turnout, and all the guys there really seemed driven and capable of making the team. Throughout the entire process I was reminded of an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia when they go to open tryouts for the Eagles, and I halfway expected some of the people there to end up being like that. Guess I was underestimating how much effort it takes to come try out for a football team. Once a good number of guys were out there, they started setting up the area to time our 40 runs.
I couldn't help but notice that the crew there started setting up the cones not on a football field, but on a somewhat flat area of ground next to the parking lot. Apparently, Eric Taylor, co-owner of the Warhorses, had been informed the previous night that the Scott County field had just been seeded, and we were unable to actually hold any activities on the field itself. Not only did that create a bit of an issue with finding flat ground for the drills, but as a kicker, we really had no goal posts to focus on when kicking. We settled for a couple of telephone poles that were probably four feet apart to practice on.
When we got there, they had us fill out a consent form and pick up our tryout T-shirts. I was in the process of grabbing the table and tent from the van when Eric shouted over to me to ask me what size shirt I needed. I shouted back, "I wear a small." He looked over at the stack of t-shirts for a second, looked back up and shouted back, "Extra large?" I replied, "...A medium would work?" He looked at the shirts again, looks back at me and goes, "Extra large it is." Obviously they weren't expecting someone of my tiny build to be out there; extra large was the smallest size they had. It fit like a tent, and I jokingly asked them if they were trying to hinder my 40 time by giving me a sail. The conditioning coach suggested a tie it like a belly shirt, and I seriously considered it for a minute. I settled for tucking it in.
They timed us each on two 40 runs. The lane they had us running on was actually a little uphill, but I guess running uphill is a better indicator of actually speed than running downhill. I didn't catch my time on my first run, but they informed me that my second run was 2/10's slower than my first one, and it was just over 6 seconds. I'm well aware of how slow I was, but keep in mind that when Alex timed my 40 speed before the tryout, I couldn't break the 6 second barrier. Slowly but surely I'm inching my way towards being able to.
After the 40 run, the two other kickers there and I split off and started kicking. One of the guys there had brought a practice field goal holder, so we all took turns kicking and recovering the couple of footballs we had scrounged up from the supplies the Warhorses staff had brought. The two other guys were definitely booming them pretty far, so I was a bit intimidated. I held my own though. We were kicking from probably 35 or 40 yards out at these two telephone poles with very little room between them. I botched a couple early ones, but for the most part, I felt pretty solid. These were just practice runs, however.
We hung around, and one of the other kickers left. Eventually the coaches started calling for us to hand over the stockpile of footballs we had accumulated. Before we knew it, we were down to one ball. The other guy and I kind of stood around, keeping our leg fresh and occasionally kicking a couple more times. We waited for a while, with the coaches barely looking our way. Eventually we started pestering Eric, asking when we'd have someone to come watch us. All the other positions had split off and were running drills against each other, and had been for about an hour. Eventually JaQuar Sanders came over and had us kick. We each had one kick off and one point after attempt. The kickoff I did fine with; it wasn't the deepest or highest kickoff I'd ever done, but it wasn't terrible. The field goal, however, woof. I'd gotten used to being offset from our target, and being way back from where we were. I went too far for loft and tried to watch where the ball was going instead of watching my foot hit it, and I paid for it; my kick was completely botched, sailed super low and left. I'm pretty sure it would have hit the linesmen in front of me had I been actually kicking. What a way to end the day, especially with someone watching us.
We wrapped things up, Jag let us know that we'd hear back one way or another in the future, and we kind of mingled and went our separate ways. The winds had picked up, so we tore down the setup for ESPN Sports Radio 1300, and I packed the stuff away in the van. I thanked Eric and pestered him to know more about the upcoming tryouts. After that last kick, I knew I was going to need another one to have a hope of making the team. He said the next one would be indoors at their practice arena, and that they may not have goalposts, but they'd have nets and could tape off targets at the very least.
All in all, I wasn't entirely disappointed by the tryout. I know I botched a kick while the actual coaching staff was watching, but I also know they had an eye on us from a far while we were taking some practice kicks. I'd been so focused on kicking from distance that a point after attempt wasn't something I was really prepared for. Now I know what to expect, and I can prepare myself properly for another tryout. Hopefully I'll hear back from them.
April Lancaster's night at the race: She was front row and center at the Quaker State 400 where Brad Keselowski got the win. ÂÂÂ Take a look at these up close and personal images she had just a few inches away from the track. ÂÂÂ