Pikula back kicking the
snot out of football
By Alison Stolz
After not playing for an entire season, Western Mustangs kicker/punter Rob
Pikula has already made a great comeback this year.
In the first quarter of
the very first game of the 2002 season, Pikula unfortunately broke his leg
playing against Windsor. He was running down the field in hopes to score
a touchdown and was tackled from behind. The irony of his injury
is that his
father, also a former varsity football player at the University of Waterloo,
busted his own knee in a game against Windsor.
Pikula was unable to play
the rest of what was going to be his second season for the
Mustangs. He went through
extensive physical therapy, which proved to be a success. He resumed training
in the summer months and was strong and ready to return for Western in
"My feeling for football
never changed, I love the sport. But [the injury is] always
in the back of my mind. I just hope something like that doesn't
happen again," Pikula says. "It means a lot to
me [being a part of the Western football team]. Only a selected
few get to play for the Mustangs. It's a really great experience
that I didn't want to give up... one that I will cherish
forever," Pikula adds.
During rehabilitation, Pikula kept up his spirits knowing he could make a turnaround
and earn his spot back on the Mustangs.
"Everyone was really supportive
and confident about me. They all said not to worry and that
I would be able to come back and get in there."
Pikula has been playing football since he was 10 years old. He played many
other sports throughout his high school career, but football stuck.
"Playing on a team is something I really liked," Pikula explains. "I
played lots of individual sports, but playing football with a team means a lot
more, especially when you win stuff you can celebrate with the team."
Pikula realizes there is a lot of extra pressure on the kicker, but enjoys
the thrill of it. He played other positions when he was younger, including
running back, but decided on kicking for the Mustangs.
"I played soccer my entire
life and when I came here I was only 150 lb." Pikula
says. "I was way too small to play anything else, so
I just decided to kick. That's where I excelled."
"Rob is a natural kicker, he is very aware on the field and he can run too," says
teammate Sean Dutton. "He is a threat to other teams, because they don't
know if he is going to kick or run."
"Kicking is a pressure position." Pikula explains. "It's important
just to stay calm and tell yourself you are going to make the kick. You have
to be in your own place and not let anything interfere."
In this season's five Mustang games, Pikula has beaten his 2001 personal record
in rushing with 10 yards over his 8 from his first season. As well, his punting
average has increased to 40.45 yards from his previous 38.2 yard record. It
appears Pikula will increase most of his statistics if he continues to keep
up his current pace.
He is currently sitting at a 95 per cent convert average, attempting 20 thus
far and making 19. In his 28 kickoffs he has totalled 1,157 yards, with his
longest kick being 75 yards. He has punted a total of 31 times and gained 1,254
yards, a long of 70 yards.
"He means a lot to the
team, especially being on special teams," Dutton says. "With
kickers, they need to be able to get the ball in deep. We
need a good field position and he gives it to us."
On his 14 attempted field goals this year, Pikula has made eight, with his
longest being 34 yards. However, according to him, he would really like to
improve on his precision.
"I am pretty happy with how I am kicking right now, but I want to improve
my field goal accuracy and come out on top this year."
Pikula's goals are quite similar to most athletes at the varsity level; he
wants to make All-Canadian. He is intent on working just as hard in football
as in academics and has plans to apply for teachers college. He also plans
on continuing with football and quite possibly making it to the next stage
"I hope to play the next level up, that being the [Canadian Football League],
so if that works out I will definitely do that."