August 12, 2002 - by
A Seminole Conversation – Xavier Beitia

Aug. 12, 2002

Xavier Beitia, who was named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List as one of the nation’s top collegiate kickers, enjoyed an outstanding freshman season in 2001 for the Seminoles. Even more is expected from the sophomore this season. Beitia stabilized the Seminoles’ kicking position last season and led the team in scoring with his right foot. He met with and discussed the first time he kicked a football, what kickers do during practice and what he did to prepare himself for the 2002 season in today’s edition of A Seminole conversation.

Do You Remember The First Time You Kicked A Football? Did You Realize Then You Wanted To Be A Kicker?

“I was about 10 years old when I first kicked a football. The first time I realized I wanted to be a kicker was when I was playing soccer when I was younger. I was always asked to take the goal kicks for my team because I had the strongest leg. It was then I decided I wanted to kick a football. I began by kicking a football over the basketball hoop at my house. Ever since then I knew I wanted to be a kicker.”

What Do The Kickers Do During Two-A-Day Practices?

“I usually get to the locker room at about 7:15 and immediately begin to stretch my legs and my body. There are some practices when we begin with field goals and PAT’s and that’s when I get my work in for the morning. After kicking, and for the rest of practice, I usually stretch myself in order to say loose. At night, when we have kicking, I’ll come in early again to stretch and prepare to get on the field. After kicking to begin the night practice, I’ll let my body rest and recover during the rest of practice.

Do You Have Any Pre-Game Or Pre-Practice Rituals?

“I do have a pre-game ritual that helps me get mentally prepared for each game. I start off on the phone by calling my parents, my girlfriend, my coaches and the team trainers. After I finish my calls, I take and hot bath and stretch at the hotel before we eat lunch. I use my time on the bus ride to the stadium to visualize the perfect kick, the perfect snap and the perfect hold – everything. Once I get to the stadium, I am on the go. I visit with our team trainers, put on my uniform and go out on the field to warm-up. After warming up once, I come back into the locker room and put on my pads and go back out on the field and kick again. The most important thing in my ritual is visualizing kicking the ball.”

How Many Yards Can You Kick A Field Goal From And Still Feel Comfortable?

“I say that I am totally comfortable kicking from 55 yards out. I feel that I don’t have to do anything but hit the ball correctly. Once I get longer than that I still feel comfortable. If I have the wind, I still feel comfortable from about 57. When I get past that, I probably try to over-compensate too much and try to kick too hard. Against the wind, I would be comfortable from 53 yards. The main thing is feeling comfortable. That actually depends in the wind and which stadium we are playing in.”

Did You Envision Your Overwhelming Success During Your Freshman Season and Can You Duplicate, and Kick Better, As A Sophomore?

“I was pleased with how I preformed last season, but I think I can kick better this season. I think I can straighten out my PAT’s, which was something I started to do by the end of last season. I think I am hitting the ball as solid as I was near the end of the season. I made 16 of 17 attempts last season – but did I kick 16 of 17 right down the middle – no. I can straighten that aspect of my game out. In addition, entering the season, I know more of what to expect on the field. Last year I had questions like, ‘how fast does Miami block a kick’, and this year I’m not worried about things like that.

What Are Your Thoughts To Being On The Lou Groza Award Watch List?

“It’s an honor to be included on the Lou Groza Award watch list. That was one of the goals I set for myself entering the season. I would like to win the award at the end of the season because our team will have had a great year if that’s one of the goals I could reach. But, I’m not going out there each time I kick to win awards. I going out to kick every kick to help our team and I’m really not thinking about winning awards. That puts extra pressure on myself and the team I don’t need that kind of pressure. Hopefully, I can take each kick and help my team throughout the season.”

What Have You Done To Make Yourself A Better Kicker For The Seminoles This Season?

“The main thing I did to become a better kicker was get my self in better shape physically. Getting in shape is going to prepare me for the long season ahead. I felt last season that my body became tired as the season went on. I feel that by being in better shape, I can be fresh during the entire season and that will help us be more successful as a team. I have also gotten a lot stronger and feel that will help improve my technique. It’s how you kick the ball and it doesn’t matter how strong you are if you develop bad habits. I fell that refining my technique along with getting stronger is what is going to make me a better kicker.”

What Goes Through Your Head When You Are Asked To Take The Field And Kick A Field Goal Or Extra Point?

“The thing I think about most of all is making sure my technique is correct. I take three leg swings and visualize the perfect kick as soon as I get to the spot of the ball. Chance Gwaltney (our holder) always tells me to keep my weight forward and I pray to God and just kick the ball.”

Is There A Different Feeling, Or Do You Do Anything Different, When A Game Is On The line?

“There is really no difference between kicks. It’s the same ball, it’s the same field, the same snapper and the same holder. My approach to field goals is that they are just long extra points. On extra points, I approach them as just a field goal. If you take that approach and don’t worry about anything, there is no added pressure. If I take the same approach, there is no situation that can get me nervous. If I happen to miss when the game is on the line, it was just my time to miss. I don’t take a different approach — I just do what I do every time because that’s what works for me.”

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