The Washington Redskins brought in Shaun Suisham in the last month of the 2006 season to help with their ever-so frequent kicking troubles. Suisham performed well, and this year, it appears that Suisham will keep his starting position as he is the only kicker currently at Redskin training camp.
THN caught up with him at this year's training camp to ask him about a few things. Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Mark Solway: You arrived in Washington in December so this is your first Redskin camp. Contrast a Joe Gibbs training camp with a Bill Parcells training camp.
Shaun Suisham: For me, it's really just about kicking, but I really appreciate the type of coach that Joe Gibbs is, and I like the atmosphere and the environment, and obviously the opportunity is great for me here.
MS: What do you concentrate on in camp? You don't get to do a lot of different drills, so what do you yourself work on.
SS: Well for me with kicking, you can't kick 100 balls a day through camp, so it's important to make every kick count. It's very important that when you are kicking, that you're locked in and really focused on what you're doing. If you find that you are having some sort of issue then obviously you work on that, but there's nothing specific that I work on otherwise.
MS: Obviously at this juncture of your career, you're not working much on your technique, so it just a question of repetition and finding your rhythm?
SS: Absolutely. It's more just working with the guys, at getting back to that comfort level. The guys - Ethan Albright, and Derrick Frost are just top notch, which makes my job much, much easier.
MS: It must be great to have a guy like Ethan Albright who is just a consummate professional...
SS: Every one of his snaps is perfect, and Derrick, he has such sure hands, and the ball's down so fast that it gives me a little more time to come at that ball.
MS: You went eight-out-of-nine for the Redskins, with your only miss coming on a 50-yard first attempt. But you were perfect after that, so how much did that help your confidence?
SS: It was great. I was disappointed to miss the kick, because that was a makable kick; but from there, I made all of my kicks and it kind of spring-boarded me to this year.
MS: In Dallas, you were competing for a job with another Canadian Mike Vanderjagt, what's with Canadian kickers? (said in jest and with laughter)
SS: Here's something for you, and I don't think it's ever happened before, all four guys on the special teams roster were from outside the United States. We had L.P. Ladouceur as the long snapper, the punter Mat McBriar was Australian, L.P. is from Montreal, and then there was Vanderjagt and myself.
MS: As a Canadian, did Vanderjagt take you under his wing at all?
SS: No, not necessarily, but I mean, everything was fine.
MS: So how exactly did a kid from a small town like Wallaceburg, Ontario get all the way to the National Football League?
SS: The reason that I got started in football was my coach in high school, Rob MacLachlan. He was also my uncle, but he got me into football, and it kind of progressed from there. Then in my final year of high school, I made some long field goals.
MS: What was the longest?
SS: 58 yards.
MS: Wow. 58?
SS: My last three games in high school, I had kicks of 52, 57, and 58, and that was my spring-board into college.
MS: Did Bowling Green take notice of you then, or did you approach Bowling Green yourself?
SS: Again, it was Rob MacLachlan, along with my parents, who helped me get out some film of myself; you know, the whole recruiting process. It happened very late though. We started doing it in November and I was in Bowling Green in by January.
MS: Bowling Green do a fair amount of Canadian scouting, both in hockey and in football, don't they?
SS: At the time that I got there they were. I was actually one of 7 or 8 Canadians on the team, although by the time I left, I was the only one. That was probably more just because coaching staff changes, and that can mean areas that they recruit can change.
MS: You're one of thirteen Canadians at an NFL training camp this year, do you think about that at all?
SS: It's very special. I had the opportunity to host a football camp in Wallacburg on June 23rd*, and we had almost 200 youngsters come out. The way the kids from surrounding communities responded to me being there hosting the camp, was really kind of cool. And I guess that kind of solidified, or made me understand a little bit more, how excited people are for me, and how special it really all is.
MS: What advice would you give to any Canadian kid that is trying to follow in your footsteps?
SS: Well first of all, it's absolutely attainable. It's not easy, it's not easy for a kid from the United States, from Mexico, from Canada, from anywhere. You're never going to get up here without working hard, and by surrounding yourself with the right people. Without that, I wouldn't be here.
MS: Last year when I spoke to Jesse Lumsden at camp, he said that he felt that self-promotion was something that had enabled him to get his chance, and you said that you had to do some self-promotion, do you think that's something that Canadian kids need to recognize and get better at?
SS: Sure. The opportunities in the United States with the scholarships are huge, and if my uncle and parents hadn't promoted me through film like they did, I would have never received the opportunity. So yeah, self-promotion was a huge help.
MS: So do you think technology will help Canadian kids get noticed? Anyone can make a DVD these days and get film out there, so do you think that will help more Canadian kids realize NFL dreams?
SS: Absolutely. You have to get yourself out there. That's not to say that you can't do it through a Canadian school, but I think playing in an American school definitely afforded me some advantages. Playing in the places that I have played, I think maybe that you can be a little more comfortable just because of the places that you will have played. But yeah, it's just a matter of getting yourself out there, and obviously you need to perform, but through that, you might need to let people know what you've got, and know that it's possible. I've been around lots of people from Canada playing in the U.S.
MS: So do you have any final words for Canada?
SS: For me, I often go such a long period of time without getting home. It's just so nice when my wife and I do get to; just the laid back atmosphere of Wallaceburg, and Southwestern Ontario is something that is special to us and that we really enjoy.
MS: Thanks Shaun, and best of luck this season.
* Kicking It For Kids was on July 23rd, 2007 at the Wallaceburg High School (W.D.S.S.). Approximately 180 youngsters particpated in the free one-day event hosted by Shaun and 50 local coaches. It was a basic fundamentals camp for kids between the ages of nine and fifteen, and there was a skills competition as well.