TAMPA, Fla. – Kicking sometimes boils down to numbers.
Number of yards in a field goal. Number of thumbtacks pinned within 20. Number of touchbacks. Figures tell a lot about a kicker.
“I’ve always said it’s about relationships,” said coach Tom Feely.
What you need to know
- Tom Feely’s has been coaching some of the best kickers in the Bay Area for over three decades
- Feely has seen several of his kickers earn scholarships, and some have come all the way to the NFL
- Former Armwood kicker Sterling Hofrichter became Feely’s 16th kicker to make it to the NFL
- More High School Sports stories
Tom Feely has built a number of them over the years, which is why he boasts a truly impressive number. With over three decades of coaching and training the upper thighs of the Bay Area, Feely has built a decent resume, one he doesn’t get the credit for.
“I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of guys who were very successful later on,” said Feely. “And I don’t believe for a minute that I’m the only reason for that.”
When the Atlanta Falcons selected former Armwood kicker Sterling Hofrichter in this year’s seventh round of draft, it was the 16th time that one of Feely’s former players reached the NFL.
“You kind of feel where a kid goes, how far they go and in Sterling Hofrichter case he got better from the moment I met him,” Feely said.
Court judge is Feely’s No. 16. His first? His son Jay.
Feely has coached all of his sons, but in many ways every kicker he works with is family.
“You work with them over the years and you see them go through the different stages, and so on,” he said. “They become like your son. I think you have built a strong relationship there over the years. ”
And while 16 kickers in the pros are an impressive number, there’s one more Feely is prouder of. The number eight, like eight grandchildren.
“I am proud of each of them,” he said.
Feely is used to coaching others, but one of his youngest grandchildren taught him one of the best lessons.
Last November, when she was just four years old, Selah Grace was diagnosed with stage 5 cancer, causing the entire Feely family to fall into free fall.
Photo courtesy of: Tom Feely
“I didn’t know there was a phase 5,” Feely said. “I had just heard of phase 4.”
Cancer had taken over almost every part of Selah’s upper body, but she fought and beat it.
“She came by the grace of God and tons of prayer by thousands upon thousands of people who prayed for her,” he said. “She taught me a lot about how to deal with adversity.”
Kickers know all about adversity, and Coach Feely helps them deal with it. He’s the kicking whisperer, with numbers to back up his success.
But it is so much more than that.
“It’s not just a teacher or a coach, but it develops a relationship with that person so they really trust you,” Feely said. “We are all the sum total of the people we meet, the important people we meet in our lives.”