Where are they now?<br>kicking great Chris Sailor

He was a record-setter in high school and in college, so it should come as no surprise that former Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and UCLA All-American Chris Sailor is still up to his chinstrap in the business of kicking footballs.

Three years after his college career ended, Sailor is employed by the Arizona Rattlers in the Arena League while running his own kicking camps for high school age kids at his high school alma mater. The next session, the last before his "day job" begins, will take place March 9 & 10 for 20-25 campers.

Sailor is still listed in the Student Sports National High School Football Record Book in several categories after a stellar 1994 season that ended with him tied for first all-time with 22 field goals in a season (22) and tied for fourth in most kicking points with 105 (22 field goals and 39 PATs).

He's also tied for thirteenth all-time with 33 career field goals.

Interestingly, Sailor's kicking career began his sophomore year at Sherman Oaks when a gym teacher saw him goofing around with a football.

"I played soccer all my life," he explains, "and a P.E. teacher saw me messing around and asked me a week before the season started if I'd be interested in kicking for the team as they didn't have a kicker. I ended up going five of 12 that year with a 50 yarder, one of nine I hit over 50 in high school."

By his senior year, Sailor was recognized as one of the best kickers in the nation after he helped his team to a 14-0 record and CIF Div. III title. He was named a Cal-Hi Sports all-stater after hitting field goals of 58, 57 and 54 yards that year.

Sailor had scholarship offers from dozens of schools but only tripped to UCLA, Cal and Colorado State. He canceled official visits to Stanford ("going through a coaching change") and Notre Dame ("too cold") before picking the nearby Bruins.

At UCLA he immediately stepped in and took over the punting duties, ranking third in the Pac 10 and 17th in the NCAA.

As a sophomore, Sailor averaged 41.6 yards on his 66 punts and put a third of those (22) inside the 20-yard line. Amazingly, he had only three touchbacks.

By his junior year, the SoCal native had added place kicking duties to his resume and finished the season being named 1st team All-American for punting and kicking in addition to being honored as a second team Academic All-American.

That year, 1997, he made 15 consecutive field goals and had a spectacular game at Oregon when he made all four of his field goal attempts including a 56-yarder with 1:51 left in the game that helped UCLA down the Ducks.

Asked what was the highlight of his career and Sailor doesn't list a kick, but rather a team accomplishment.

"We had a 20 game winning streak during the last two seasons," he recalls, "and for me, helping my team win some of those games was the best part for me."

In 1998, Sailor capped a senior campaign doing punting, place kicking and kickoff duties and finished his collegiate career with a streak of 11 consecutive field goals. His most memorable field goal may have been one of his shortest: a 25 yarder in overtime at the Rose Bowl that sent the Ducks (again) to defeat.

Doing triple duty didn't lead to Sailor suffering in his other kicking chores. He averaged an impressive 41.0 yards on his punts and also reached the end zone on 57 of his 88 kickoffs.

After graduating with a degree in communications, Sailor has enjoyed his stint in the Arena League playing for the Oklahoma Wranglers before the team folded this year.

"The goal posts are only eight feet apart," he explains, "and it's a whole new ballgame. What's great about it is it makes you focus on consistency, having to concentrate on your mechanics and being deadly accurate."

His long-term goal remains making it to the NFL, but the athlete has been so busy "focusing on getting my camp business going" that he hasn't secured an agent to "help make calls and get tryouts."

Enjoying the teaching aspect, Sailor believes his future success after his on-field career is over will be in helping the next generation of kickers.

" The life of a kicker is often times quite frustrating," he states. "There are so many things that most go right mechanically for the ball to sail through the uprights.

I have found that the most frustrating aspect of kicking is simply not understanding why you have made a mistake which caused the ball to go wide right or left. I have been a kicker now since I was a sophomore in high school and like most kickers, I never had much coaching.

So I struggled on a daily basis trying to figure out how to make the football go straight. After years of frustration, the art of kicking now comes naturally to me."

Sailor calls his business, naturally enough, "Chris Sailer Kicking" and offers camps, private lessons and group lessons. He says his goal in teaching is simple: "I want to teach each kicker the proper mechanics so he can reach his fullest potential."

________________________________________________________________ Editor's Note: Sailor's last session for the winter, March 9 & 10, is almost full but he does have spots open. To get more information, contact him at 818-767-7188 or e-mail: chris@chrissailerkicking.com.


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