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Frisina gives strong lift to Brea Olinda

At 5 feet 5, the senior's ability to convert 53-yard field goals raises his profile among Southland high school kickers.

September 02, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

How many teenagers are not embarrassed to admit they still use a toy bought for them when they were in fifth grade?

Senior Michael Frisina of Brea Olinda proudly shows off his Christmas present from 2001. It's a kicking set, complete with a plastic tee and goal posts.

"I've hit some cars on the street," he said. "I've had parents tell me to move. I don't think I've set off any car alarms."

Frisina rarely uses his toy set these days, because his leg is too strong. He has moved on to making 53-yard field goals, as he did last season when he converted six of 10 field-goal attempts for the Wildcats.

"This kid has a fire in his belly," Brea Olinda Coach Robb Perrance said.

Perrance is so confident in Frisina's dedication and leadership skills that he appointed him team captain this season.

At 5 feet 5, 148 pounds, Frisina is an example of a player who never misses practice and thrives on performing in pressure situations.

"I like being in front of people knowing everyone is looking at me," Frisina said. "The more people in the stands, the better. I'm not the biggest guy in the world, but I like to prove people wrong. Just because I'm not 6 feet tall doesn't mean I can't kick a ball 55 yards."

He has won kicking combine competitions based on accuracy and has received strong reviews from kicking specialists such as Brad Bohn, a private instructor from West Coast Kicking who has been tutoring Frisina for five years.

"He's the most technically sound kicker for his age," Bohn said. "If you have a field goal from 42 yards, he's the guy."

Frisina won a year's worth of free lessons from former UCLA All-American Chris Sailer after finishing first at a state kicking combine.

"He's very consistent," Sailer said.

During the summer, Frisina heads to the community pool, and while some stare and wonder what he's doing, he's practicing his kicking under water trying to strengthen his muscles through water resistance training.

He gave up playing baseball last spring to spend additional time in the weight room. His goal is to improve the height on his kicks and increase the hang time and length of his kickoffs.

He has been kicking on varsity since the middle of his sophomore year. He also played quarterback and doesn't fit into the stereotype of kickers living in their own little world.

"A lot of them are superstitious," he said of his fellow kickers. "The ball has to be tilted a certain way and if they miss, they blame it on the ball or the holder."

Frisina views himself as an integral part of the team even though others joke, "You're just the kicker. I wish I had your position."

"I don't think they realize the time and effort and how much you have to perfect it to be real good," he said.

Among the projected top kickers in the area this season besides Frisina are:

Senior Mike Bowlin of Aliso Niguel, known for his strong leg.

Junior Nick Diaz of Redondo, who could be No. 1 for next season.

Senior Vince D'Amato of El Toro, who made 15 field goals last season.

Senior Abraham Torres of Whittier La Serna, who was five of seven on field goals last year.

Senior Mike Loftus of Anaheim Servite, known for booting the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs.

Frisina used the summer to try to keep improving, attending camps and competitions at Stanford and California.

"I definitely think I can kick at the next level," he said. "I just want my shot to prove to colleges I can do it."

Kicking has become so synonymous with Frisina that friends have come up with a new greeting for him.

"They don't call me by my name anymore," he said. "They call me, 'Kicker.' "

--

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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