Tom Schneider is familiar to most Cal fans as our finest placekicker in the Tedford era.
After getting injured in the 2007-2008 season and being denied another year of eligibility, he transferred to Northern Alabama to complete his time as a college kicker.
He blogged about his experiences as a D-II kicker in the South at his blog, "Bama Tom".
He has also been working on other projects
—most notably his in-depth look at the inner workings of Cal football titled, "Inside the Huddle".
This photo book takes us inside the locker room and gives Golden Bear fans the opportunity to explore what it’s like to be a place kicker for Cal.
I spoke to Tom to discuss what it’s like to be a kicker and talk a little about the book.
1. Describe what an average kicker’s training regimen is like for those who aren’t familiar with it. Are there any new things do you have to pick up at the college level?
My training regimen consists of lifting, plyometrics
, core training, technique training, and mental training. I enjoy cross training with other sports. At the college level I had the opportunity to practice yoga and pilates, which were instrumental in my development as a kicker. Both draw largely on body awareness, strength, and flexibility.
2. How big was the culture shock moving from a Division I big conference school in a place like Cal to a small Division II school in the heart of the Deep South?
The Division II school that I played at [University of North Alabama] is the Rolls Royce of D-II schools. We played in one of the largest D-2 stadiums in the country.
The biggest difference from my experience at Cal and UNA is the size of the staff. At Cal, there is a separate strength coach, academic coordinator, etc. At UNA, many coaches have dual responsibilities doing multiple things.
3. Do you have any favorite moments as a kicker, either at the high school or college level?
I have a lot of great memories as a kicker. One that stands out was my first game playing football my senior year of high school. It was my first time wearing football pads and I don’t think I could have had a more dramatic start. My high school [Las Lomas] was playing Napa in the opener and we were down by two points with two seconds left and I hit a 51-yard field goal to win the game. Fun, fun experience.
4. You probably know that the Bears have struggled at kicker ever since you were injured last season. Do you feel some of the issues concerning the kick and punt units has been fair or unwarranted?
It’s difficult getting in there as a freshmen. Transitioning from high school to the bright lights of college football is a big jump. While these growing pains of young kickers is tough now, these kickers will continue developing physically and psychologically.
5. Talk about the book. You and your fellow teammate Cory Smits both shared this passion for taking photographs during football practice. When did it become a full-time endeavor, and how did your teammates and coaches react to the whole experience?
I decided to make this a full time endeavor after I learned my injury was a season-ender. The players and staff are supportive of me and Cory’s endeavor. Many other players beside Cory and I contributed to the book through by taking pictures and adding to the text. It’s cool because it’s a book “from the player's perspective.”
6. You talk about how getting injured gave you this rare glimpse into the Bears locker room as a kind of fan insider—someone who saw what was going on, but not quite being one of the guys. What were the biggest differences you had to adjust from being an active member of the roster to just being an observer of the process?
Sitting out the 2007 season was very difficult for me, especially with the way it played out. I considered myself one of the leaders on the team, and not being able to keep my finger on the pulse of the team was tough.
7. Do you have any funny stories to share about your experience as a Cal kicker?
During the spring we train early in the morning. During my sophomore season (2004 team), a group of the older players decided to have a little fun after morning conditioning. They had prepared 40 water balloons and let loose on all the players walking out of the stadium. They had water balloon launchers and let loose on everyone.
8. Finally, now that your college kicking career is ending, what does your future look like?
This spring I’m training to kick professionally. Kicking is exciting, challenging, and rewarding and I will continue to play as long as I enjoy it. I’m not sure what I want to do after football, but I consider myself an academic late-bloomer and would like to go back to school.
If you can’t find Inside the Huddle on Amazon, it should be available at these local vendors!
Bancroft Clothing * Cal Student Bookstore * Analog Books * Orinda Books * Orinda Country Club * UC Threads
All images provided in this interview courtesy of Tom Schneider and can be found in the book.