Last summer, Carter Ward narrowly missed out on an invitation to participate in the 2018 Kicking World National Showcase.
So when the Columbus North junior went to a two-day camp in June at Roncalli High School with a chance to earn an invite to this year’s national showcase, he made the most of his opportunity.
Thanks to a strong performance, Ward was one of two kickers from Indiana invited for this weekend’s 2019 Kicking World National Showcase in Austin, Texas.
“My main goal going into the camp this year was to improve on (last year) so I would succeed and do well and qualify for the national showcase,” Ward said.
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At the camp at Roncalli, Ward won the punt competition with a long of 58 yards and the kickoff contest with touchbacks on all three of his kicks. He finished second in the field goal competition with a long of 50 yards.
This football season, Ward made only 2 of 7 field-goal attempts, with a long of 37 yards, but converted all 16 of his extra-point tries and averaged 35.7 yards on 28 punts, putting six inside the 20. He had five touchbacks on 33 kickoffs and earned honorable mention All-Conference Indiana honors for the second year in a row.
“I was happy with my punting because coming into the season, I had never really punted before,” Ward said. “Once I started working on it, I gained a lot of confidence. Field goals, I was struggling mentally, and that resulted in bad mechanics. Kickoffs, I felt like I did pretty well.”
Ward took over as the Bull Dogs kicker about halfway through sophomore season and began this year as the kicker and punter. After missing his first four field goals of the season, he lost the kicking job to senior Spencer Rivera for a game-and-a-half before returning to that role.
“It put a reality check in my mind and kind of brought me back and let me know what I needed to focus on and helped me reclaim the position back,” Ward said.
Like most kickers, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Ward began as a soccer player. He played soccer through seventh grade and joined the Northside Middle School team as a seventh-grader after the urging of his neighbor, former Columbus East kicker Tom Glick.
“My neighbor kicked in college, and he kept saying I should try it,” Ward said. “I started playing golf and enjoyed playing that more than soccer, and then I tried football, and I really liked it.”
Ward, who still plays golf for North, will be one of 65 kickers from 22 states at the national showcase, which will be Saturday and Sunday. The event will be streamed live from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Sunday via YouTube at kickingworld.com/live
“I’m really excited for it,” Ward said. “It’s a good opportunity to show colleges what I have and compare my skills to others and see where I stand. I just want to do well, especially on field goals because that’s kind of my main focus, and show colleges I can be consistent and kick for distance on punts, field goals and kickoffs. Hopefully, I can improve and extend my kicking career into college.”