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Living the dream: Begin using his foot to make a difference for football Axemen


WOLFVILLE - Ryan Begin knows he isn’t perfect, but at the same time, perfection is something he is always striving to attain.

Through six games of the 2014 AUS football season, the fourth-year Acadia punter and placekicker attempted 15 field goals, and made them all.

In a 26-4 Axemen win over St. F.X. Oct. 12 in Wolfville, Begin went five-for-five in field goal attempts, the longest from 44 yards and all more than 30. 

Add in his accurate punting, and he played a major part in Acadia’s second win of the season. For his efforts, he was named AUS special teams player of the week, as well as Acadia’s male athlete of the week.

 

Off to Acadia

Begin, an Ottawa native, played for the Ottawa-Cumberland Panthers of the Ontario Varsity Football League. He had never heard of Acadia until recruiter Peter Fraser attended one of Begin’s varsity team practices in Ontario.

“He ended up coming over for dinner, meeting my parents, then asking me to consider Acadia. Even though I didn’t know about Acadia,” Begin said, “I have to think they maybe knew about me.”

Although Begin was confident in his abilities as a kicker, he admits adjusting to Acadia and university football was definitely a learning experience.

“I think I may have come in a bit overconfident. I saw myself as a high-level recruit, and I figured the (placekicking) job was mine.”

Despite jumping from high school and varsity league football to university, he didn’t think it was going to be that different. He found his biggest adjustments were the greater speed and dealing with all his new teammates.

“My first two years here were definitely ‘character-building’ – dealing with adversity and coming away from it stronger. Nothing is handed to you at this level. You learn that in a hurry.”

It was probably his third year before he felt totally comfortable at his position. He was strictly a placekicker his first two years at Acadia, then added the punting chores last season.

All-Canadian Kyle Graves, also the starting quarterback, was the punter before then, and a definite motivator, Begin said.

“He wasn’t afraid to get in your ear when he felt you were dong something wrong.”

 

Love of the game

Begin has been playing football since the age of 10. He became a kicker pretty much by accident.

“I wasn’t the kicker at first, but you had to be a defensive player to do kickoffs. They had open tryouts and I was chosen.”

As a special teams player, he said, his motivation is different than a typical football player. Given that he gets to spend a lot of the game on the sidelines, “it’s more about staying calm and keeping your concentration,” he said.

“I try to maintain a positive attitude, be ready when I’m called upon, and try not to take it too seriously.”

Although he doesn’t see the minutes his teammates do, he knows his job is an important one, and can often be the difference in the game.

“It’s important to be ready, and when you’re called, to stay calm and don’t put extra pressure on yourself.” That, he said, “was my problem my first two years. I’d practice at one level, then get into the game and kind of lose control.”

Begin is certainly over any early-career jitters.

“I’m very happy with my season so far,” he says, adding that he is “focusing on being the best I can from 40 yards in. You’ll probably only hit one or two 50-yarders in your career.”

Begin strives for “a nice, smooth tempo, rather than trying to crush every kick.”  A well-placed punt can give the defence good field position and possibly force a safety.

 

Looking ahead

Begin will have enough credits to graduate in December with a business degree. He would like the opportunity “to do something beyond the CIS level” in football, and plans to spend the off-season working on strength training and conditioning.

“I’d love to make the CFL someday,” he said. As a kicker, “typically, there are spots set aside for Canadians, but it’s extremely competitive.”

As for his career plans outside of football, Begin said, he’s leaning toward getting his real estate licence.

“I know it won’t close the door to anything else, it’s just an added opportunity.”

In the meantime, Begin is looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing the Axemen finish the best they can. His parents were in town from Ontario for Homecoming this past weekend, which marked the first time they had seen Begin play for Acadia.

Begin has “no regrets, none at all” over choosing Acadia.

“When I came in, we were middle of the pack, then we won back-to-back AUS titles. I also underestimated how close I would become to my teammates. That’s something I’ll definitely be taking away from here when I leave,” he said.   

Through six games of the 2014 AUS football season, the fourth-year Acadia punter and placekicker attempted 15 field goals, and made them all.

In a 26-4 Axemen win over St. F.X. Oct. 12 in Wolfville, Begin went five-for-five in field goal attempts, the longest from 44 yards and all more than 30. 

Add in his accurate punting, and he played a major part in Acadia’s second win of the season. For his efforts, he was named AUS special teams player of the week, as well as Acadia’s male athlete of the week.

 

Off to Acadia

Begin, an Ottawa native, played for the Ottawa-Cumberland Panthers of the Ontario Varsity Football League. He had never heard of Acadia until recruiter Peter Fraser attended one of Begin’s varsity team practices in Ontario.

“He ended up coming over for dinner, meeting my parents, then asking me to consider Acadia. Even though I didn’t know about Acadia,” Begin said, “I have to think they maybe knew about me.”

Although Begin was confident in his abilities as a kicker, he admits adjusting to Acadia and university football was definitely a learning experience.

“I think I may have come in a bit overconfident. I saw myself as a high-level recruit, and I figured the (placekicking) job was mine.”

Despite jumping from high school and varsity league football to university, he didn’t think it was going to be that different. He found his biggest adjustments were the greater speed and dealing with all his new teammates.

“My first two years here were definitely ‘character-building’ – dealing with adversity and coming away from it stronger. Nothing is handed to you at this level. You learn that in a hurry.”

It was probably his third year before he felt totally comfortable at his position. He was strictly a placekicker his first two years at Acadia, then added the punting chores last season.

All-Canadian Kyle Graves, also the starting quarterback, was the punter before then, and a definite motivator, Begin said.

“He wasn’t afraid to get in your ear when he felt you were dong something wrong.”

 

Love of the game

Begin has been playing football since the age of 10. He became a kicker pretty much by accident.

“I wasn’t the kicker at first, but you had to be a defensive player to do kickoffs. They had open tryouts and I was chosen.”

As a special teams player, he said, his motivation is different than a typical football player. Given that he gets to spend a lot of the game on the sidelines, “it’s more about staying calm and keeping your concentration,” he said.

“I try to maintain a positive attitude, be ready when I’m called upon, and try not to take it too seriously.”

Although he doesn’t see the minutes his teammates do, he knows his job is an important one, and can often be the difference in the game.

“It’s important to be ready, and when you’re called, to stay calm and don’t put extra pressure on yourself.” That, he said, “was my problem my first two years. I’d practice at one level, then get into the game and kind of lose control.”

Begin is certainly over any early-career jitters.

“I’m very happy with my season so far,” he says, adding that he is “focusing on being the best I can from 40 yards in. You’ll probably only hit one or two 50-yarders in your career.”

Begin strives for “a nice, smooth tempo, rather than trying to crush every kick.”  A well-placed punt can give the defence good field position and possibly force a safety.

 

Looking ahead

Begin will have enough credits to graduate in December with a business degree. He would like the opportunity “to do something beyond the CIS level” in football, and plans to spend the off-season working on strength training and conditioning.

“I’d love to make the CFL someday,” he said. As a kicker, “typically, there are spots set aside for Canadians, but it’s extremely competitive.”

As for his career plans outside of football, Begin said, he’s leaning toward getting his real estate licence.

“I know it won’t close the door to anything else, it’s just an added opportunity.”

In the meantime, Begin is looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing the Axemen finish the best they can. His parents were in town from Ontario for Homecoming this past weekend, which marked the first time they had seen Begin play for Acadia.

Begin has “no regrets, none at all” over choosing Acadia.

“When I came in, we were middle of the pack, then we won back-to-back AUS titles. I also underestimated how close I would become to my teammates. That’s something I’ll definitely be taking away from here when I leave,” he said.   

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