by Chris Hunt

The first time Hough High kicker Nathan Deering attempted a field goal, it was ugly.

At the time, Deering was hanging out with a few friends at Bailey Park. He was an established soccer player who earned a varsity letter as a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High; so he figured he could easily kick one through the uprights.

Oh, how wrong he was.

“The first time I tried to kick a field goal the ball went nowhere,” said Deering. “I was just messing around with some friends.”

Fortunately for the Huskies, Deering’s first futile attempt didn’t keep him from trying out for the football team. As a junior during the 2010 season, Deering connected on nine of his 10 field-goal attempts and earned I-MECK 4A all-conference honors as a punter with an average of 42.86 yards per attempt.

Deerings’ consistency in all three phases of the game is one reason he’s Carolina Weekly Newspaper Groups’ 2010 Lake Norman-Area Special Teams Player of the Year.

“Nathan’s success this past season was not just because he’s a good athlete, which he is, but because he’s smart, hard working and very coachable,” said Hough special teams coach Steven Sechrest. “He went from a beginner to all-conference performer in just one season at one of the most difficult positions to learn.”

Playing for the football team didn’t mean Deering had to give up soccer. This past fall, he took on both sports at once, even starting for the soccer team that advanced to the 4A regional finals.

Needless to say, Deering didn’t enjoy much down time.

“I would go to soccer practice first and then stay after for football practice,” said Deering. “Sometimes, I would get home and fall asleep from all the sports I was playing. You throw in weightlifting and gym class, and it was exhausting.”

All the hard work, however, was worth it.

In his first season, Deering booted a 63-yard punt, a record that’ll be tough to break. And he still remembers the excitement he felt after his first field goal in the Huskies’ season opener. His 29-yard boot in the second quarter of a 25-6 win at Rocky River will go down as the first field goal in Hough history.

Deering also connected on a career-best 39-yarder the following week in the Huskies’ first home victory over Waddell. But Deering’s most memorable kick was a clutch blast against his former school that tied the game at 17 in the fourth quarter.

“I felt pretty good about the kick because it was on the North Meck fans’ side of the field,” said Deering. “They all know me, so they were yelling my name. But as soon as I connected with the ball, I knew it was good.”

And so was Deering during the 2010 season.