Billy Vinnedge's Kicking Academy will hold its seventh annual camp next weekend. That's a whole lot of kicking.
But the main directive of these camps, derived from Billy Vinnedge himself, hasn't changed much since that first kick was launched in 2011. Vinnedge says he wants to help as many kids as he can continue their playing careers after high school.
"Still, the No. 1 priority for me is getting these guys to kick at the next level, whether it's junior college then to a four-year or straight to a four-year school," Vinnedge said Wednesday at Hancock College.
Vinnedge, a graduate of Arroyo Grande High School, is also the head coach of Hancock's men's soccer team. He's also coached soccer at Nipomo High School. He's also an accomplished rodeo competitor in team roping. He's also got a daughter and a wife. Oh, and he also works for NASA at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
But working with kickers is more of a passion project for Vinnedge. He was a standout athlete at AGHS in soccer and baseball, before finding his niche as a kicker on the Arroyo Grande football team during his sophomore year.
After two All-Conference seasons kicking and punting at Hancock, Vinnedge eventually landed a full-ride scholarship to the University of Wyoming, where he handled all the Cowboys' kicking duties as a senior, going 16-for-20 on field goals and averaging more than 43 yards per punt. Vinnedge was named to the Mountain West All-Conference team at Wyoming.
It's clear that Vinnedge is both passionate and knowledgeable about kicking and punting. Vinnedge reiterates that he's driven by the prospect of giving kids the chance to do what he did: Kick in college.
"Whenever I help a kid get to kick at the next level, whether it's here at Hancock or a four-year university, I see that and it keeps motivating me," Vinnedge said. "I got to experience that and I want other kids to get that experience, too. And then hopefully some day they'll be the ones teaching or holding camps for young kickers."
Vinnedge has accomplished his goal quite a few times in the decade or so he's been working with kickers. He'll have some of his former players who have kicked at the next level at his upcoming camp, including former Lompoc kicker Jose Morales, who's playing at Humboldt State, Bryce Paskey, a former All-State kicker at Paso Robles, and Atascadero grad Blaine Aguiar, who's kicking for Azusa Pacific.
Garrett Owens, an Arroyo Grande High grad who kicked for Oregon State before heading to Iowa State as a graduate transfer for the upcoming season, has worked Vinnedge's camps in the past and may return to pitch in this year.
Vinnedge said there are 10 to 15 players signed up for the 2017 camp, but spots are still open.
"It's two days of heavy instruction, with some competitions at the end," Vinnedge said. "It's 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and it's pretty much non-stop. We teach these guys anything and everything they're going to need to know about kicking. I guess the difference between this camp and the other camps kids go to is the instruction. A lot of the other camps out there are more about competition or ratings.
"I focus a lot on breaking down the mechanics, going back to the basics and focus on getting ready for the season."
Vinnedge is also quick to point out that kicking talent often comes naturally and that it's never too late to give place-kicking or punting a try. Vinnedge himself didn't kick a football until his sophomore year of high school.
"This year we'll probably have five guys that are pretty new to kicking and are just giving it a shot," Vinnedge said. "That's all you've really got to do. I get a lot of parents who come out and ask for a lesson just to see if this is something their kid can do. If you stick with it, this is something you can be good at."