Life's A Kick!

by Chris Stansbury

One day here and the next day gone. "Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand, sometimes you turn your back to the wind.” Those are lyrics of the song “Life is a Highway”, but could also be a description of East Carolina place kicker Robert Lee’s senior season.
One day here... Robert Lee was a preseason candidate for the Lou Groza award, recognizing the best place kicker in college football.  And why not? Lee made 17 of 19 field goals in 2005 and made all 30 extra points. 
The next day gone... Actually it was more like six games gone.  Lee, previously a model of consistency, suddenly couldn’t find the mark. Literally.  Enter freshman Ben Hartman against SMU and Southern Mississippi.  Hartman made three of four field goals in his two game stint, but was returned to the bench.
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand, sometimes you turn your back to the wind... Pirate Head Coach Skip Holtz gave The General his vote of confidence once again in Orlando versus Central Florida.  Lee made his first three kicks, but blew the last two. 
So, Lee turned his back to the wind and bounded into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, a place where he missed five of eight field goals this season. And Saturday, the Pirates had their first place lead in the East Division on the line against Marshall. 
Lee came through in a huge way, nailing four field goals as if there was never a doubt in his mind.  Even if he was the only one without a doubt.
At any level of football, high school, college or pro, this is a guy who practices about ten minutes a day and spends the rest of the time taking a nap on his helmet.  Yet, this same guy could be the deciding factor in a close game battled by teammates beating their brains in for 59 minutes and 55 seconds. 
Ah, the life of a kicker. He’s either the hero or the goat.  I guess to take lyrics from another song, sometimes he’s the windshield and sometimes he’s the bug.

Chris Stansbury