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Stepping up their game

Lompoc High’s place kicker Jose “Pepe” Morales practices his punting form during the Billy Vinnedge Kicking Academy last weekend. Morales will be a senior this year for the Braves.

Chris Aguirre/Staff

After having success in the football world, including a stint as a kicker/punter for the San Diego Chargers, Arroyo Grande High School alum Billy Vinnedge is now teaching the lessons he has learned over his lifetime to kickers around the Central Coast, in hopes of making the area a Mecca for kickers.

“I wanted to put on this camp to help the kids out, especially the kids around the area. There were about 18 kickers here today who are within 50 to 100 miles from here,” Vinnedge said. “It’s just a great opportunity for them to come out and get some quality kicking and snapping instruction and just have a good time and compete a little bit.”

Vinnedge began this year’s BVKA Camp last Saturday and it will conclude this Saturday.

Vinnedge, who played two years at Allan Hancock College before receiving a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, started the Billy Vinnedge Kicking Academy in 2011 in hopes of giving lessons to any kid who wants to be a kicker.

Vinnedge had a phenomenal career at Arroyo Grande High School where he was a 10-time letter winner, with four for soccer, three in football and three in baseball. In his senior year, he was named the California State Kicker of the Year, averaging 48 yards per punt for the Eagles.

The 2012 is taking place at St. Joseph High School. Helping Vinnedge at the camp is his former teammate and snapper at Wyoming, Danny Dutmer. Conner Schmitt who is a former punter at UC Davis, is assisting the camp’s attendees in everything from kicking techniques to mindset and angles of kicks.

“There is a ton of information that goes into the kicking game that most people don’t realize,” Vinnedge said. “I just want them to get the technical part of it and take that home with them and get better.”

Dutmer helps teach long snappers, who also attend the camp, the proper techniques to snap during a field goal opportunity or punt.

One of the many students that Vinnedge has taught was former AG kicker and current future Oregon State kicker Garrett Owens. Vinnedge said Owens trained under him for the past four years.

“If you learn the way to kick properly and you’re good at it, my goal is to get you a scholarship,” Vinnedge said. “My goal at the end of these camps is to get these kids on the All-CIF Teams, All— State teams and have them kicking in college.”

One of the top kickers in the Los Padres League, and the Central Coast for that matter, is Lompoc kicker Pepe Morales. The Braves are the two-time defending CIF Southern Section Northwest Division champions. He was a participant at the camp and got techniques that he will take with him for his senior year.

“This camp teaches me different stuff that I usually don’t think about — like technique,” Morales said. “It’s cool that you actually know someone that has gone to the NFL level, you just want to experience that some day.”

The campers also watched tape of themselves kicking so they can see their own mistakes. The videos can get rated by services around the state.

While this camp offers kicking and snapping lessons, Vinnedge and his staff also teach the attendees how to be professional in front of potential coaches.

“It’s a class act — you have to show respect,” Vinnedge said. “Sometimes, as a kicker, no one will know about you until you win or lose a game and you just have to be able to compose yourself and you have to know your role.

“Sometimes you just have to mellow kids out and get their heads on straight. It’s an attitude changer, you have to be able to be calm, composed and have to be able to handle a lot of pressure.”

For more information or to get a hold of Vinnedge, go to bvkacamps.com or send an email to bvkacamps.com.

Vinnedge said he holds one-on-one sessions for people who want specialized instruction.

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