THE SPECIALISTS: In team sports, there are individual positions that require special skills – these are CHS’s specialists


Elliot Choy

Goalkeeper and senior Nicole Vohs warms up for a game with her teammates in the background. While on the same team, goalkeepers go through an entirely different warm up than the rest of their teammates. Vohs said there is constant pressure on the goalkeeper during the game. Even though she may be inactive for large amounts of time, the one moment that they need to come up with a big save, they have to be ready.

Goalies, punters and kickers, called “Specialists,” stand out in their sports because they are allowed to perform acts other players aren’t allowed to. Goalies, for example, can use their hands, and kickers and punters use their feet. Along with their position comes specific training, constant focus and pressure.

Because they perform differently, these athletes also need to train differently. Whether that means breaking off during practice or going out on the weekends, the athletes must do what is necessary to contribute.

Kicker and junior Conner Coghlan  not only kicks on the football field but also plays center back in soccer. He said he spends his first half of practice at football and then spends the rest of his time at soccer.

“My dad had always pushed me from a young age to go out and kick on the weekends, and I’ve always had fun with it. I go out on Saturdays and kick around the soccer ball and also do the football, too,” Coghlan said.

Goalie and senior Nicole Vohs also trains at goalkeeper practice to improve her technique. “Usually we’ll go off individually with the goalkeeper during training, so it’s more goalkeeper based stuff. So it’s a little bit different than a person on the field,” Vohs said.

Jason Hicks, kicker coach and social studies teacher, said kickers need specific training.

“We have lots of specific drills we do, most dealing with footwork. We do drills that help us elevate the kick so it does not get blocked or (drills that) work on hang time and placement during a kick off. A lot of kicking is mental, so we do a lot of things during a practice or a game to stay loose because you may only get two to three kicks in a football game, so we need to make them count,” Hicks said via email.

Hicks added that because of their limited time on the field, kickers need to maintain their focus throughout the entire game so they’re ready to play fully focused.

Hicks said, “We talk about focus every day. Kicking field goals and kickoffs is a lot like a golf swing; it’s muscle memory. So being focused on our steps and being able to repeat good reps constantly is a major key to a kicker having success.”

Kicker and sophomore Matt Fortier said he works to maintain his focus during football games. “It’s all about knowing the situation the team is in and knowing what I’m going to do, if I’m put in.” Fortier said. “When I know that it’s getting close and I might have to go in, I prepare myself mentally and physically.”

Punter and junior Zachary Bradley focuses by doing breathing exercises. “So, basically I maintain my focus by doing breathing exercises. I take it one step at a time. I just tell myself that everything is going to be okay. Basically I tell myself, you know I can do this, I’ve practiced everyday.” Bradley said.

For his part, goalie and junior Jake Davis said it is important to stay focused while the ball is on the other side of the field.

“I stay focused by focusing on the ball and kind of like just talking to the defense, making sure everyone is in shape still and also focused. The ball could switch field at any point, and you might have to be ready because it could be on the other side of the field, and you have to be ready to come out and get it,” Davis said.

As a result, these specific positions can put extra pressure on the athletes during a game. The athletes don’t play for large quantities of the time, but when they do play, it’s stressful. In many cases, it’s the goalie who is the last line of defense, or it’s the kicker trying to kick a game-winning field goal.

Vohs said she is constantly under this extra pressure. “It’s a little different because the game kind of weighs on your shoulders, and you feel like if you get scored on, it’s kind of your fault, even though they had to go through 10 other players. You’re the last stand of defense, so it’s very pressure-filled,”  Vohs said.

Davis said he feels the extra pressure, but to handle that pressure, he said he works to be strong mentally.

“The pressure is tough. You have to really be strong mentally because it’s more positioned where there is no room for errors. Field players can make an error, but if you’re a goalkeeper and make an error, more than likely, (the mistake) directly (results) in a goal. You just have to be mentally strong.”

Bradley said there is a lot of pressure to deal with. “It’s all about getting the ball, kicking it, not screwing it up. There is a lot that could go wrong, basically it takes a lot of focus.”

Not only do the athletes feel this extra pressure, but coaches, such as Hicks, also state they are able to recognize it in the players.

“A football game in high school is 48 minutes long, and there are usually around 140 to 160 plays in that time,” Hicks said. “If a game comes down to a field goal to win and a kicker misses that kick, he is remembered as the guy who cost the team the game, and he played four to five plays of the 140. So, (being a kicker is)  something that takes a lot of mental stamina and focus to make sure you are ready when you need to make that one play that could potentially win the game.”

Although the specialists have separate training, focus and the ability to withstand extra pressure, there are also other aspects of the positions to consider, like the leadership role it commands.

Davis said, “There are a lot of calculations and stuff that people don’t realize because it’s very complicated, but the stuff that you do seems as if (it’s) easy to others, but it’s actually a lot of focusing and thinking about it. The (negatives) would probably be the pressure and the ability to not make a mistake. The (positives) would probably be the ability to seem like a leader and, making those big game saves. And being, a hero of the team; it’s always something to look forward to.”

Vohs said, “(The) pros (of being a goalie) are definitely the feeling you get denying people, definitely because it’s like you can save the game. But it’s very taxing on your body (from) diving every day.”

Sophomore Matt Fortier kicks a field goal in a game against Noblesville High School. During practice, Fortier works to enhance his game.
Kelsey Atcheson
Sophomore Matt Fortier kicks a field goal in a game against Noblesville High School. During practice, Fortier works to enhance his game.