Emphasizing ‘A Natural Style of Kicking and Punting’®, Coach Zauner’s teaching philosophy facilitates an environment where kicking specialists develop the skills, technique, and confidence to achieve their maximum physical and mental potential. At an amateur and professional level, Coach Zauner, LLC programs and events provide a kicker, punter or snapper ‘A Specialist’s Path to PRO Football'®...Coach Zauner, LLC Mission Statement

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Specialists' Dreams vs. Reality

The Value Of A Good College Education

Drew Butler (Georgia) and Randy Bullock (Texas A & M)
Scholar Athletes with NFL Talent

I consider coaching or playing football at the highest level to be a privilege and honor.

Since I was a kid, playing in the NFL was always a dream and goal of mine.
Gary Zauner at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
After finishing my college playing career as a Punter/Kicker and QB at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse I had to make some decisions.  I had finished my Bachelors Degree and and was now working on my Master’s Degree in Education while training for some NFL workouts.
Gary Zauner Punting for the West Allis Spartans - Semi-Pro Football Team
My hard work finally paid dividends when I was invited to a workout with the Minnesota Vikings and was rewarded with a free agent contract.

After going to training camp in 1973 with the Minnesota Vikings and 1974 with the Houston Oilers as a punter/kicker and being released during training camp my dreams of being a NFL punter or kicker were diminishing. The reality was I was maybe not going to be an NFL kicking specialists.

While playing semi pro football I injured my right knee and had major surgery. My punting and kicking career was coming to an quick and abrupt ending.

My 'dreams' as a player were fading but the 'reality' of getting a real job was becoming more apparent.

As I trained and played college, semi-pro and had stints with two NFL teams I created a parallel path of following my childhood dream and also getting an education. My ‘Path to PRO Football’ was now changing.  I was realizing my playing days were over and I wanted to be a coach.  An NFL Coach and Special Teams Coordinator.

Getting my Master’s Degree was one of the most important decisions I made in my life. It not only provided me with a back-up plan, but it also introduced me to my passion for teaching and coaching.
Coach Zauner at BYU 1980 Holiday Bowl
After teaching and coaching at the high school level for five years, I was fortunate enough to get a graduate assistant spot at Bringham Young University coaching kicking specialists under head coach LaVell Edwards.

In 1980 Doug Scovil hired me at San Diego State as his Special Teams Coordinator and I was the first full time special teams coach in NCAA history.

Coach Zauner First Full Time Special Teams Coach in NCAA History
With hard work and a little bit of luck, I was able to continue 11 more years in the collegiate level, which led to 13 seasons in the NFL. Also, knowing that I always had a backup plan took some of the pressure away because I knew that I would always be able to provide for my family.  
Coach Zauner at Long Beach State with Hall of Fame Coach George Allen
Student-athlete is a term that very often is overlooked, and the term STUDENT should be overemphasized. Having a plan for your career and a good education will set you up for the rest of your life. I cannot stress enough how important having an education is. No one can play football forever, and there is a point in time where everyone must come to that reality.

My motto with young athletes is, ‘Have a passion to follow your dreams but know there is a reality of life.’
Drew Butler and Randy Bullock Scholar Athlete
I am very proud of Drew Butler (University of Georgia) and Randy Bullock (Texas A&M) because they have achieved success on and off the field.  Both come from excellent family backgrounds and have worked hard to become college footballs elite punting and kicking specialists. The Ray Guy and Lou Groza Awards are to recognize college’s best.  Both have achieved these top awards during their college careers.
Drew Butler (U. of Georgia) 2009 Ray Guy Award Winner
Both of these scholar-athletes have also received some of the highest academic honors as well.  Drew was selected as an Academic All-American for the past two years as well as graduating Cum Laude with a degree in Telecommunications a semester early. Randy was also named Academic All Big 12 and is graduating with a degree in Petroleum Engineering.
Randy Bullock (Texas A & M) 2011 Lou Groza Award Winner
However, all these awards including the prestigious Heisman Trophy do not guarantee anyone an NFL career.  Getting into and staying in the NFL is hard and very competitive.

It is based upon talent but having a little bit of luck and being in the right place or team at the right time can help, but having an education can set the sky as the limit.

I wish Randy and Drew the best of luck in this year’s upcoming draft and hope that they have long and prosperous NFL careers. However, no matter what happens in football, I know that these young men will succeed in their endeavors in life, as they have set themselves up for success. And...
‘There is life after football.’

Note: Drew Butler and Randy Bullock will be training here in Phoenix, Arizona in preparation for the 2012 Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

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