May 11, 2016 9:47 PM by Ross Field
A local man is making dreams come true on the field and he's pushing student-athletes farther than they ever thought they'd go. Action News Now's Ross Field caught up "the kicking guru" and talked about how he became a game-changer.
Abel Hernandez grew up in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hawaiian Garden wanting to play football. He recalls watching his favorite team, the Los Angeles Rams.
"They were everything. I wanted to be Jack Youngblood. Every Sunday the game was on and we were watching it," said Hernandez.
Eventually, he tried out for Pop Warner football, but there was just one problem.
"I was so small that my mom had to sneak weights in so I could make weight. I was so tiny and so skinny."
Hernandez did not let his height, or lack thereof, define him. Instead, he went onto play linebacker and he says he held his own.
But in high school his family moved to the northstate.
Hernandez went to Orland High School where as a junior he discovered kicking.
"I was just messing around and the guys started to kick footballs, so I walked over there and I just kicked one. The coach came by and said 'do it again come over here let me see that, that's a good kick' and I just started kicking, launched another one, hit another one and he said 'alright you're going to be our kicker now,'" said Hernandez.
He would go onto set the school record for longest field goal, 45-yards, which has since been broken.
But after high school, his playing days came to an end and he turned to coaching, specifially kickers.
"I just started working with them and showing them how to kick and that's when that's where it started," Hernandez said. "No one has ever payed me or anything to do this. I've done it for free for about twenty years."
Hernandez says he's been responsible for coaching about fifty kickers, some of whom received college scholarships, like Hamilton High School and Butte College product Rigoberto Sanchez, who's at University of Hawaii.
Others have even made it to the NFL, such as Orland's Aldrick Rosas, who recently signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent.
"Never would I have though that in a billion years. I mean I was all choked up when Rosas signed, it was an amazing thing," said Hernandez.
So, what's his secret? How does he help theses kickers succeed? Here's a tiny sample.
"It's your steps, your approach to the ball, your leg explosion, it all has to be consistent," said Hernandez.
By helping local kickers reach new heights, Hernandez has earned the nickname "The kicking guru."
He just a guy who gets his kicks coaching kids how to kick a football and here's the kicker: he's good.
"It's crazy. I never would've thought that it would get this big and this great for the kids," said Hernandez.