From the Magazine: Kicking is the Habit

Brandon Kornblue leading a training session

Boca Raton alum Brandon Kornblue is using his leg and his experience to train a new generation of football kickers

Ah, the american football placekicker. The oft-maligned gridiron specialist who becomes a scapegoat in losses and a fleeting hero in victory. For Boca Raton native Brandon Kornblue, this special teams position isn’t just part of the game—it is the game.

Growing up in Boca Raton, Kornblue knew that he wanted to be a kicker from a young age. “I just loved the thought of the thrill of a game-winning field goal,” he says. “Some people look at that as scary or nerve-wracking. I wanted that.”

By all measures, Kornblue’s Boca High school career was a success; in 2007 readers of the South Florida Sun Sentinel voted him to the Palm Beach County All-Time Football Team. Seeking a potent mix of athletics and academics, Kornblue committed to the University of Michigan as a walk-on, passing on scholarships from FCS, Division II and Division III schools. “It’s a decision that I’ve never regretted,” he says of his choice to attend his father’s beloved alma mater.

After a college career that included a national championship in 1997 and a stint playing with Tom Brady, who served as his holder, Kornblue returned to Boca High as a coach on his former football team and a math teacher. He held those posts for a time—and loved teaching—before a six-year career in the Arena Football League brought him back to Naples and he met his wife, with whom he now has three children.

According to Kornblue, there are not typically dedicated kicking coaches at most levels of the game, which left a niche he could ably fill. At first, he began working with young kickers who would approach him after his Arena Football games, but what began as private one-on-one sessions quickly grew to small groups and then full-blown camps. Eventually, he was running the University of Michigan’s kicking camp, and within two years of his move to Naples, Kornblue left his teaching job and started working at Kornblue Kicking full-time.

These days, Kornblue Kicking hosts camps all over the country, including monthly events in Fort Lauderdale. In the 14 years he’s run his academy, kickers he has trained have gone on to play for programs in nearly every Division I conference, and plenty have made it to the NFL.

“It looks simple on TV, but it’s anything but,” Kornblue says. “You’ve got 1.3 seconds from the snap to the kick, you’ve got these 250-to-300-pound monsters coming at you full-speed trying to block the kick.” And kickers still have to compete against themselves.

Luckily, Kornblue can still enjoy watching football recreationally—though it’s not without its stress. “Some of my favorite—and least favorite—moments are when my guys that I’ve coached are on the field. That’s either the highest of highs or the lowest of lows, depending on what they’re going through. Fortunately, there’s been a lot more highs than lows.”

Kornblue Kicking, 561/702-0203; https://kornbluekicking.com/

This story is from the April 2021 of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.