Mike Hollis stepped carefully through a pack of punters at McDaniel College's Kenneth R. Gill Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, each dropping footballs that met a swinging foot before being sent into the air in a perfect spiral.

Well, some of them at least. The rest were paired with a loud "heads up!" warning from those in the immediate area.


The scene feels miles away from Hollis' time in the National Football League, where he spent seven of his nine seasons kicking for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

For the last two years, he's been a headliner for Sports International Football Camps.

Wednesday was the first of a two-day kicking, punting, and long-snapping camp on the McDaniel campus, where Hollis is seeking to spread his knowledge and skill set to the 27 campers in attendance.

"The stuff that I teach goes against a lot of the common sense that kids think kicking is," said Hollis, who also puts on private camps teaching his craft outside Sports International. "It's good to get them at this age, a younger age. A lot of older guys or high school kids, even then, are still kicking what they think kicking is, whether they've been taught or not."

Hollis made 200 of his 250 career field goal attempts, good for 80 percent. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1997, and after seasons with the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants, Hollis' professional career ended following the 2003 season.

His retirement days are filled with teaching college and professional hopefuls across the nation. His Sports International camps will take him to Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, University of Houston in Texas, William Paterson University in New Jersey, and George Mason University in Virginia later this summer.

This week, the camp at McDaniel is designed for children ages 7 to 18. In addition to teaching the importance of kicking and punting, Hollis' camp has specialized long snapping instruction where individuals learn more about the position.

The overnight camp also features film study for each of the participants, where they can analyze their play during one of the day's practice sessions.

With such specific skills being taught, the Sports International camp provides an opportunity to get teaching on a more personal basis. Adding Hollis to the team two years ago is an added draw.

"Honestly this is one of our better ones," said Erica Ross, director of internal operations at Sports International. "You're not going to get hundreds and hundreds of kids doing a kicking camp. You want it to be so you can have kids having that almost one-on-one experience with the coaches so they get the training."

The organization is known for attracting current or former NFL talent to lead its camps each year. Baltimore receiver Marlon Brown and linebacker CJ Mosley, and Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, all have their own camps this summer. The same is true for players past and present across the country.

"It's kind of something you can aspire to be, so to speak," Ross said of the star power at the organization's camps. "You're learning from someone who actually has the in-game knowledge and that kind of stuff."

At his camps, Hollis is not only teaching how to kick and punt. He wants his campers to trust what they've learned and not think about anything else.

"I think personally the mental part of kicking is just the proper technique and proper practice," he said. "If you can trust the form and the technique, that's all the mental preparation you need."


Naomi Gross, 17, will be a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in the fall, and plans to play football for the first time this season.

As the only girl at the camp, she admits that her knowledge of punting and kicking wasn't very vast, aside from what she knew as a soccer player.

"I learned where I should start my runs, which I didn't know before, and really where I should be hitting the ball," she said. "And, in terms of punting, I learned how to better angle the ball so that my punt would spiral and look pretty."

Mount St. Joseph High School's Will Ballinger, 16, started playing football as a center, and when coaches asked him to add long-snapping to his repertoire, he found a new skill that he enjoyed.

"I learn a lot of new techniques to help me when I'm doing wrong," he said.

On Wednesday, there were only four long-snappers working with a coach, which allowed for narrow focused teaching. Today, the long snappers will pair with the kickers and punters for both field goal and punting competitions.

Back for another year at Hollis' camp, Catoctin High School senior-to-be Ryan Springer, 17, hopes to pick up even more bits of information so he can win his team's punting job in the fall. Last year, that position went to a senior.

Since last year's camp, he said his punts have gained 10-20 yards.

Springer said he has plans of trying to walk on in college and punt, and with Hollis teaching discipline and the ability to believe in one's self, he feels confident heading into the season.

"Being out here with the guys and learning with the coaches on a college campus," he said, "kind of gets you ready for college life."

Hollis said his dream is to use his camp and instructional experience as a way to earn a job with an NFL team as a kicking coach. He likens the sport to golf, where most professionals have swing coaches.

For now, he's content with spreading what is, in his opinion, the best way to kick a football. If his campers have an open mind before they set foot on the field, he said they will get the most out of the experience.

"It's just something I know a lot about. I'm very, very passionate about it," Hollis said. "The greatest part of my job is to see these kids succeed."