Travis Perrin lives for the moment. The moment that comes when his team — the varsity Sudbury Gladiators — call upon him to deliver a clutch kick in a football game.
Whether it is to gain an extra point after a touchdown, or putting the opposing offence deep on a return, or sending a ruler-straight kick through the middle of the goalposts to win a game from 50 yards, Perrin loves the moment when winning or losing comes down to his execution.
There are a few seconds on the clock. The game is tied. It has been a hard-fought battle on the gridiron for the Gladiators and their foe. Blood has been spilled. Players have gone beyond their limits. It has come down to the moment for Perrin to step up and come through for his teammates, who have emptied their tanks to get within field goal range.
When all the pressure is squarely on his shoulders and the tension is ripping at his nerves, Perrin locks his eyes on the football, takes his quick steps and boots the ball crisply over the waving hands of defenders and through the uprights.
This is the moment he waits for. His time to shine and deliver for his teammates and coaches and fans. It’s what keeps Perrin wanting it more and more.
“I’m good under pressure,” the 19-year-old said. “I’m a confident guy. I have to be mentally strong. There’s 300-pound guys coming at me full speed, and there’s five of them, I have to keep my eye on the ball and hit it just right. I am always prepared for the moment and always focused on the ball.”
Three years ago, friends asked Perrin to try out for the Lasalle Secondary School football team. Perrin answered the call. From the beginning, Perrin knew he was trying out as a kicker. He had a “strong leg” from playing 10 years of soccer, but no football experience. Perrin was like a duck to water, and established himself as the premier kicker in the city by a long shot. He helped Lasalle shake the doldrums and win the city title in 2010. His kicking talents have helped the Gladiators become a more feared opponent in the OFC. And his steady progress attracted a lot of attention from Canadian universities.
It has been a life-altering experience.
Perrin once dreamed of soccer glory, but once the hooks of football sank into him, he committed to football. Two years ago, Perrin quit soccer to concentrate on football. It wasn’t an easy decision to give up his passion of the previous 10 years, but Perrin did what felt right to him. He had a feeling about football and instinctively followed it fast and furiously.
It has him on a path to Queen’s University, where he will try and become the kicker on one of the top post-secondary football programs in the country.
“Football took over my life,” he said. “I never imagined this would happen when I started. I went out to have fun with friends, but it quickly evolved into something more serious for me … a chance to play university football. It’s nuts.”
During the winter and spring, Perrin made four trips to Hamilton to train with Canadian Football League kicking legend Paul Osbaldiston. Perrin learned plenty of tricks, tips and techniques on kicking from the former Hamilton Tiger-Cats great.
“What an awesome dude,” Perrin said. “After the first session, I noticed a huge difference in my distance and accuracy. It paid off.”
Perrin’s kicking leaves an impression. He can sail a punt 70 yards. He can boot field goals from within 50 to 55 yards with room to spare. He does it over and over again. Perrin kicked the winning field goal to help the Gladiators beat Huronia in week three and remain undefeated.
Without a doubt, Perrin is a vital cog in the Gladiators machine and one that has the machine rolling over the opposition.
“Good, consistent kickers are hard to find and a good kicker is everything … the difference between winning and losing a lot of times,” Gladiators head coach Brent Richer said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he misses a 20-yard field goal, the next time he makes a 45-yard field goal. Travis is the first one off the field and tells you what he did wrong and he doesn’t repeat it again in the game.”
The coaching staff has come to depend on Perrin thanks to his work ethic, dedication and results. Richer relies on Perrin to take all kicking situations. When they first started working with him, Perrin was out to kick the ball as hard as he could. Now, thanks mostly to extra training with Osbaldiston, Perrin’s kicks have become more fluid and purposeful. Richer says Perrin gets a “look in his eyes” and knows he can put Perrin in any game scenario and the kicker is going to come through.
“Travis this year compared to last year is night and day,” the coach said. “His detail is much, much better. Before, he just wanted to kick the laces off the ball. Now, he uses finesse and he’s been dead on. He kicked a 65-yard punt this season … come on.”
The varsity Gladiators hit the road this weekend to play Clarington at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The junior Gladiators also hit the road to play Huronia on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Reach Scott at [email protected] or Twitter: @SudburyShaddow
Posted by Laurel Myers