HAMPTON, Va. — Anything involving your feet on the football field, leave to Brett Starling. At 6 ft. 6 in. with a cannon for a leg, many would describe Brett Starling as a gentle giant.
“I like being called that because that way people don’t look at me and say that I’m mean and fierce and all that because sometimes people think I am and I’m not.”
In fact, he’s the furthest thing from it.
“Brett is the type of guy you want your daughter to marry someday,” said Kecoughtan head football coach Jeff Super.
But if you’re on special teams receiving one of Brett’s kickoffs, then maybe you should be intimated. He was a standout goal- keeper on the Warriors soccer team before Coach Super convinced him to come out for football as a junior.
“We didn’t have a kicker when I first got here. We were really struggling in that department. We had noticed Brett and he had an interest in kicking for us. He had a natural ability as soon as he came out and started kicking,” said Super.
But it wasn’t without some hesitation.
“I was nervous because I didn’t know how it would go at first,” Brett said.
His debut as the Warrior’s kicker would indicate otherwise.
“His first game he ever played in for us he had the game winning kick to win us the game. From that point forward I think he gained some confidence and knew that he belonged,” Coach Super recalled. “He can change the game and that’s a special thing to have. He puts time in when we’re not around and he takes it seriously.”
“My first kick I just sailed it across and the whole team just looked at me and stared,” Brett said.
Turns out the gentle giant was just getting started. In just his second year as a kicker he was invited to the Kicking World National Showcase earlier this month in Austin, Texas. The invite only showcase event hand selects less than 120 players in the nation and provides advanced instruction and competitions to provide the athletes with exposure and helps them navigate the recruiting process. This year Brett was 1 of 85 invitees.
“I opened my phone and saw the text and I read it. I skimmed through it, and I almost screamed and started crying because I was so excited.”
Brett was surprised to receive the exclusive invitation but finishing in the Top 20, proved that he was even more deserving.
“I honestly can’t describe the feeling of it, it just feels good to know that I can go out there and compete with the top kickers out there who have been kicking for almost their whole lives and this is just my second- year kicking.”
According to Brent Grablachoff, owner and Head Coach of Kicking World, Brett no doubt has a bright future.
"He finished the weekend earning an, 'On The Cusp,' status which means the coaching staff identified him as a top performer and we will be providing him some homework and tasks to complete to consider him for a spot on our Hot Prospect List which highlights the nation’s top ~5% of kickers and punters," said Grablachoff. "He’s a good kid that is much taller than the average kicker. Most kickers in college & the NFL are between 5’10-6’0 and approx. 170-200 lbs. He certainly is an anomaly, especially for high school!"