Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 24, 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY DOUGLAS FARMER P erhaps Kyle Brindza's clubfoot was a blessing in disguise. The ailment that the senior kicker/ punter was born with led to a number of surgeries spread across 12 years, but it also led to an intrinsic sense of determination. That determi- nation just may be what separates Brin- dza from other kickers who may have had equal natural talent. "There are probably more kids than you realize that have his talent," said Brandon Kornblue, who has served as Brindza's kicking coach for about seven years now. "There are not that many kids that have the talent com- bined with the work ethic. That's where the difference is." Brindza now uses his right leg to boot kickoff after kickoff out of the back of the end zone; punt after punt high enough into the air to minimize, if not entirely negate, any return; and field goal after field goal through the uprights. Watching him do those tasks now with such consistency, it can baffle belief that doctors once suggested he would not walk. Even if Brindza was able to walk, his childhood doctors were adamant he not play contact sports. Like most kids would, he paid no heed to their words of caution. "I was a kid, going off doing what- ever I wanted," Brindza said earlier this season. "They kept saying, 'I don't know how he's doing this. Something might happen later on. You might want to watch out.' "I don't care what you say. I'm go- ing to do what I do, and that's be Kyle Brindza and have fun." A sixth-grade surgery extended Brin- dza's right Achilles tendon, theoreti- cally placing him in a walking cast for upward of a year. The length of time in the boot led to some muscle atrophy noticeable even today; his right calf is noticeably smaller than his left. None- theless, seven months after surgery, the 12-year-old joined the neighborhood soccer game. Brindza stuck with soccer into high school, usually at goalie. His first punts were not of an oblong football, but rather of a soccer sphere. He initially took that kicking form to the football field, and it worked at the outset. DETERMINED CONSISTENCY Kyle Brindza has persevered to excel on the gridiron

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