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Remembering the Seniors: Tom Schneider



We thought we should go senior by senior and take a gander at their Cal career.  Some photos.  Some videos.  Some stats.  And if HydroTech has any personal stories of his time with the team, he'd share them.  We did Nate Longshore months ago, because Twist screwed up the scheduling.  Also, he's so dreamy!  And we just did Alex Mack. And, then, Will Ta'ufo'ou.  And then Jordan Kay.  And then Anthony Felder. And then we did Rulon Davis. 

Today, we do Tom Schneider.

TwistNHook:  I have a heart for Tom Schneider and I really shouldn't because, IIRC, he booted a game winning kick against Campolindo for the most hated Los Lomas.

He was extraordinarily nice to me when I met him at U-Threads in WC.


And then he was so kind to answer some questions for us. He is a true class act. 


Plus, he can tell us about Alabama!

Is there anything this kickstud *can't* do?

Well, I guess kick in the 2007 season.  He got injured right before the first game against Tennessee.  And considering back up Jordan Kay's "interesting" season and the closeness of many of Cal's devastating losses that year, I always have wondered what it might have been like were he not to have been injured.

HydroTech:  Schneider was a really happy guy.  I never saw that guy emotionally down.  As for his kicking, he had some real pop on his kicks.  It's a shame he got injured in warmups right before the first game of the season.  Talk about bad luck.  He must have pissed off the football gods or something because that's like the ultimate tease right there.

TwistNHook:  I have to wonder what went through Tedford's mind.  To have that happen RIGHT before kick offs.  Bad omen!

Avinash:  I remember he hit that crazy FG versus the Furd in 2006, and he hit a few more long ones that made the difference. Those field goals were huge, because much of the rest of the team looked like they were sleepwalking through that one.

If Schneider is healthy we probably win two more games in 2007 and avoid collapse talk. The downgrade to Kay made a huge difference.

Yellow Fever:  Weren't we waiting for him to return from injury the whole year?  I have a feeling that's going to be my overriding memory of him.  Since I barely remembered he as still nominally a part of the team this year.

TwistNHook:  This year he played at Northern Alabama in Division II.

HydroTech:  Random thought: I wonder if Schneider could win one of those pass/kick/punt the ball over 100 yard competition things that occur at halftime.  I mean, Schneider can probably kick the ball 50 yards or so.  So then he'd only need 50 yards between a pass and a punt.  I know Schneids doesn't punt, but even after a measly 30 yard throw, he's got to be able to punt the ball only 20 yards.

TwistNHook:  Here are his stats:

Year G-GS Pts PAT-A FG-A 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+
2004 12-0 83 56-57 9-16 5-5 1-6 3-5 0-0
2005 12-0 77 50-52 9-16 4-5 2-4 3-5 0-2
2006 13-0 97 52-52 15-20 5-5 3-3 5-7 2-5
Totals 37-0 257 158-161 33-52 14-15 6-13 11-17 2-7

Everything seems in order there, although the 30-39 being worse than 40-49 seems a bit out of the ordinary. 

Avinash:  That's skewed from his first year. He finished it 5-7 and 8-12 from 40-49, which is way more consistent.

What was the biggest kick you guys remember Schneider making? Was it the 55 yarder against the Furd?

Ragnarok:  Gosh, that'd probably be it, I would think.  Schneider certainly bailed out the Bears' offense a number of times that day, booting 4 field goals after Cal failed to punch the ball in the end zone.  His 14 points on the day were certainly more than the difference in a 9-point Cal victory.

Honestly, looking back at Schneider's years ('04-'06), he was a good consistent kicker (always a nice asset to have), but there really weren't very many close wins for the Bears over those years, games where a solid kicker would make a difference.  Probably the most critical was the 28-27 victory over Oregon in 2004, when each offense scored 4 touchdowns, and the difference was Schneider made all 4 extra point attempts, while the Oregon kicker did not.  Tom only missed 3 extra points during his career -- none during his final season -- the sort of consistency that fans usually take for granted, but probably shouldn't.

TwistNHook:  We certainly haven't been able to since Schneider went down right before the 2007 season.  Hopefully, the Italian Stallion can bring that back.

Perhaps the biggest kick I remember from Schneider was one he missed.  Oregon 2005.  With the clock winding down and no timeouts, Schneider and the rest of the kicking team had to rush the kick.  It was one of the most memorable moments of a VERY memorable game.  Unfortunately, it did not go our way, but given the conditions hard to blame Schneider.  In our interview, he wrote this:

11.  Discuss the kick at the end of regulation at Autzen in 2005 – did you think you'd made it?  How is your process different when you have a major time constraint like that?

I knew the kick was going to be close. Watching the film after the game is only missed to the left by about a foot. We practice last second field goals a couple of times throughout the week to be prepared for situations like that. Its a bummer not to hit them all, but the challenge/risk/reward is what makes it fun/exciting


HydroTech:  Way to bring up the bad memories.  That was an unfortunate miss, but watching rushed field goals is sort of fun.  When the kicker has all day to set up his kick, it's sort of boring.



HydroTech's Memories of Schneider:

It was the summer.  I was in Berkeley taking a photography class for fun.  Our assignment was use varying shutter speeds to either catch motion or to show motion. 

So I grabbed my SLR camera, loaded it with some black and white film, and set out about campus.  Being the football fan that I am, I naturally gravitated towards Memorial Stadium.  It was late in the afternoon at the time.  I didn't really know if the players were having an informal practice at the time or not but I thought it was worth a shot to swing by and see.

The north gate was open, as it always is, and I walked right through the gates.  As I approached the tunnel, I could hear the "poofs" of balls being kicked and a voice yelling something out.  Being so late in the afternoon, the entire field was in the shade and illuminated by the orange glow of the setting sun.  Out on the grass, in the shade, kicking balls into the north field goal posts was Tom Schneider.  There were two other people with him.  They were his parents. 

His father was running around setting up balls with the kicking tripod.  Schneider was running around, following his father and kicking the balls which his father had set up.  His father was yelling out, in a slightly out of breath voice, the game situation.  Stuff like "Game is on the line.  Cal is down by two.  The clock is running out and Cal has no timeouts.  Seven... six.... five.... four..."  And Schneider would quickly line up his kick and boot it. 

Schneider's mother sat on the field, in between the hashes, watching it all. 

I took a few photos from the stands, then figured I'd try and get closer.  Heck, why not get real close?  I walked onto the field, and politely approached Tom in between kicks.  I asked him if he minded if I took pictures.  "Nope, not at all."  Tom's father gave me a friendly grin and his mom did too. 

I began taking a few photos standing off to the sides about 10 yards away, so as to not align myself in front of, or behind Schneider to throw off his alignment.  This is common golf courtesy - to never stand directly behind or directly in front of his aligned shot.  Schneider's mother saw me, and seemed to realize that I was trying to be polite by not standing in front of him, behind him, or too close.  She asked me if I wanted to sit in front of him. I politely declined saying how I didn't want to distract him.  "You won't distract him," she grinned. 

I gave in, despite feeling sure that I would distract or annoy Schneider.  I began to sit down about 20 yards in front of Schneider.  Schneider's father said I could get closer.  "Oh yeah, you can sit right in front of him and take pictures.  Don't worry, he won't hit you.  His mother sits in front of him all day." 

Shocked, I looked at his mother and she nodded and grinned. "I'll sit right in front of him and watch him."

So I got close.  I sat on the ground, only 3-4 yards in front of Schneider, and focused my camera on the ball.  As he brought his leg through on the kick, I snapped a picture, freezing his foot in his motion as it connected with the ball.  Of course, the ball never hit me, and flew high over my head towards the uprights. 

Again, and again, Schneider set up kicks from all over the field all the while his father reciting out various game situations.  I followed him around getting shots in front of him as he kicked.  From the sides, and from behind him.  He didn't mind at all.  I guess my distraction was a good way for him to concentrate on the kick. 

On one particular kick, Schneider was about to start his approach, and then his father called a timeout to ice him.  "Reset!"  Schneider took a moment to gather himself during the imaginary timeout, then aligned himself.  Another kick and another goal.  Tom was money. 

It the end, I spent my entire 36 shot roll on Tom Schneider.  I got some great shots of his foot connecting with the ball and catching the little black rubber "momentum turf" flying up in the air.  I had other great shots of Tom from behind him after he kicked the ball with the ball in the air.  All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon in Berkeley shooting some film of football.  Tom didn't mind having me there at all.  His parents seemed happy to have me there and seemed to take some joy in my interest in shooting pictures of Tom.  Furthermore, they seemed to like surprising me with the comments about how I could sit right in front of him and how I wouldn't distract him.  I think they liked showing him off a little bit - how he could always make the kick and nothing would distract him.  And I sure as heck didn't distract him.  Time after time he nailed the kicks.