Having started in soccer when he was four years old, it was placekicker Chase McGrath’s father who noticed his son possessed a strong kicking leg and suggested he take his skills from the soccer pitch to the football gridiron.
“He asked me if I’d be okay trying out kicking, and I said yes, because football is my favorite sport,” says McGrath of his father’s suggestion. “I’d always wanted to play football.”
McGrath attended some camps to receive specific training and before long, he was putting the football through the uprights for Mater Dei High School. With the potential of having the game on the line each Friday night while representing such a successful high school program, the 17-year old senior doesn’t get rattled.
“Being at Mater Dei, there are a lot of eyes on you. There’s a lot of pressure,” says McGrath. “But I like the pressure. I don’t feel nervous. I’ve just got to stay confident and stay focused…and think I’m going to make that next kick.”
Due to his unique role on the team, McGrath’s approach to training isn’t quite the same as his teammates. While he does participate in the same weight lifting and conditioning regimens, he also spends a fair amount of time kicking on his own, working on technique to increase accuracy and distance.
His commitment to improving can be seen on the stat sheets. During the 2015 season, his junior year and first as a varsity player, McGrath put up some impressive numbers, including 70 percent of his kickoffs landing in the end zone, 100 percent (62 for 62) on point(s) after touchdown (PAT) attempts, and 10 of 13 on field goal attempts, with a longest field goal of 45 yards.
McGrath says he couldn’t ask for a better high school football coach than Mater Dei’s Bruce Rollinson and respects the emphasis the long-time head coach places on faith, values and discipline. Rollinson thinks highly of McGrath as well, and looks forward to seeing how the senior will contribute in 2016.
“Chase is an outstanding kid who possesses a tremendous work ethic and a lot of God-given talent,” says Rollinson. “He’s had a tremendous off-season and has been very successful in college camps and kicking camps across the nation, putting him on the radar screens of a lot of colleges and universities. His fellow teammates respect him because of his leadership, abilities and work ethic.”
The Newport Coast resident has a goal of playing college football alongside studying business marketing. In addition to his parents, McGrath’s role models are Dallas Cowboys placekicker, Dan Bailey, and Baltimore Ravens placekicker, Justin Tucker, as he feels both NFL players embody many of the life lessons he’s learned from the game.
“Definitely always give it 100 percent,” says McGrath of what football has taught him. “I’d say also discipline is a big one. Keep working and never give up.”