Christian VanSickle remembers his first kick. He was in fifth grade, it was from about 25 yards out and it was good.On Jan. 6, Christian, a kicker and punter for the Marvin Ridge Middle School football team, will have a chance to kick on a national stage when he plays for the eighth-grade East team in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl in San Antonio. “I think it’s a huge honor when you look at the amount of youth football players across the country,” said Charlotte kicking coach Dan Orner. “To be one of two kickers for this team is the equivalent of All-American status.” VanSickle started kicking after watching his brother, Jackson, a sophomore at Marvin Ridge High and the varsity team’s kicker and punter. The two regularly work out together. Their father, Eric, will drive them to the Marvin Ridge practice field and the two will compete to see who can kick a ball into the back of Eric’s pickup. “It’s so great to have each other because it makes it fun, and it should be fun,” said their mother, Laura. Jackson takes one-on-one lessons with Orner and passes much of what he learns on to Christian. Christian recently started coming to Jackson’s workouts with Orner and has attended several of the coach’s camps in Charlotte. “He’s picked up on the skill as fast as anyone that I’ve worked with at a young age,” said Orner. “I think his older brother, Jackson, deserves as much credit as I do, because he’s out there on a regular basis and he’s allowing Christian to go out with him.”Orner compares Christian to former Charlotte Latin kicker Paul Griggs (now at Purdue) and former Northwest Cabarrus punter Bradley Pinion (Clemson), who both graduated from high school last year and were selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.“He’s picked up as fast as those guys did when they were in eighth grade,” Orner said. Christian was able to kick a lot for his middle school team, which Orner said is a rarity.“My hat is off to his coaches for letting him attempt those field goals and letting him kind of grow up and try those longer kickoffs, and go in and punt as well,” Orner said.Christian made all 33 of his extra point attempts, made a 27-yard field goal in a playoff game and kicked 11 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. He also had a 35-yard punt average.“It actually made me feel really good,” Christian, 13, said about kicking for the middle school team. “My snapper and my holder were very good this year. … I was hitting them well.” Christian said he didn’t know much about the All-American game when he was selected, but the more he learned, the more excited he was to play. “It makes me feel pretty good because I know that that means I’m one of the most talented, I guess, at my position,” he said. “I’m looking forward to just meeting all the new players.” Christian will join his brother at Marvin Ridge High next year, and said he looks forward to playing alongside Jackson. “I think he’ll help me out a lot,” Christian said. “I think that he’ll … try to make me as good as I can possibly be.” Orner said Christian can be very good. And he expects both VanSickle brothers to play in college. “I think he’s got a great base,” Orner said. “He’s definitely ahead of his peers. The thing that will be most important for him will be him having a short memory and continuing to work hard.”
Friday, Jan. 04, 2013
Marvin Ridge Middle’s kicker VanSickle to play on national stage
Marvin Ridge Middle’s Christian VanSickle will play in Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl
Marvin Ridge Middle School kicker Christian VanSickle, center, was selected to play in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl this year. COURTESY OF LAURA VANSICKLE
Learn more: Eddie Crutchfield and Melvin Rouse of Charlotte, Huntersville’s Chase Monroe and Cornelius’ Garrett Groulx also will play in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl eighth-grade game. Macinnon Loughery of Matthews will play in the seventh-grade game. For information about the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, visit www.eastbay.com/eastbayyouthallamericanbowl.