Toole’s long journey takes him to Great Danes
By Seth Finkelstein
Feb. 3, 2015
Certain athletes practice and hone their specific trait all their life. They are born with a skill and practice that skill from a very young age, but not Patrick Toole. Toole is the rare example of defying the odds. He is the kicker for the University at Albany football team and did not start kicking a football until he was 16 years old.
He was a soccer player and never kicked a football until one day when he when he was playing flag football. His high school gym teacher, also the special teams coordinator for football, had him kick and as Toole said, “That’s how it all started.”
At first it was a hobby for Toole, and interestingly enough his initials are PAT, which in football stands for “Point After Touchdown.” As he recalled, his high school coach said, “It was destiny,” and destiny it was. He played football his sophomore year but he only did that for fun. It was between his junior and senior year when he discovered he was really good at kicking. He explains, “I won a national combine in Las Vegas over kids who played at USC and Ohio State and that’s how I found out I was pretty good at football.”
He eventually enrolled at Temple University then left to go to Erie Community College and then transferred to the University of Tennessee. He left Tennessee and came to UAlbany because his dad had gotten sick and as he said, “I wanted to be closer to home to take care of him.” Toole said that now his dad is, “on the comeback trail,” and is getting better. Toole believes that he made the right decision.
“Yeah, the coaches, everybody has taken me in and treated me like family right away. So it was definitely a great decision for me and my family.”
This season Toole was able to take the kicking job away from last year’s starter, Tom O’Riordan. He believes his experience helped him.
“From playing at two different other schools, being behind NFL guys there kind of really helped me prepare myself mentally and physically.” He proved the coaches were right with their decision by making 12-18 field goals including a 52-yarder this season.
“It’s in my habits and my mental approach to the game. Because I practice every day, go out and kick. But if you’re not mentally sharp then you’re not going to be able to complete the job,”said Toole
Kicking is a very psychological business and Toole has his own little routine before each game and kick.
“I like to go out before the game without my pads on, get a feel for the wind and game temperature and that kind of stuff. And then before the game I like to listen to classical music,” he said.
“I take a deep breath. I take my sidesteps. I knock my foot into the ground to get my foot all the way up into my cleat. And then I take another deep breath and I wait for the snap,” he continued.
Unfortunately, there was a major setback in Toole’s career. At an All-Star Game during his senior year of high school, Toole was hit and broke his leg, and had to go through a major rehab just to get to this point. He believes that rehabbing, was more mental than physical.
“I knew that I could get back physically, it took me about a year to get back to full strength but mentally there are days when sometimes I’ll wake up from nightmares because I’ll just remember getting hit and that pain. But I’ve worked through it and I’ve gotten through it.”
His injury has since healed. “It’s healed, and then after this season I had surgery, I got a screw removed from my leg. I’m rehabbing right now but I feel better than I have in a while.”
Toole admitted that though his injury still bothers him, he is able to overcome the discomfort when he plays.
“What happened was the screw popped out the other side of the bone. So it kind of created a space so whenever I took a hard step I’d feel pressure and it kind of would hurt. But during games and that kind of stuff your adrenaline is pumping so it didn’t really affect me too much in games.”
Toole would like to continue his kicking career after he graduates from UAlbany. He said, “I want to, it’s very hard. There’s only 32 kickers in the NFL, there’s no backups. So it’s very hard to get in but if I’m this close why give up now?”
Toole mentioned that he wouldn’t be against playing for the Canadian Football League.
“Yeah they still make six figures. It might be a little colder up there but I think I can handle it for a little bit.”
Toole has one more thing to add to all those naysayers out there who think kicking is so easy, “Its not as easy as it looks.”