Tom Mante ’10, kicker and punter on the Yale football team, talks with the News about his role on the team this season, his superstitious kicking rituals and his life outside of football.
Q: This season you have been a huge factor for the team, as exemplified by your game-winning field goal in the nail-biter against Holy Cross. Have you received due acknowledgment from your teammates?
A: Kicker is kind of one of those positions where you go unnoticed unless you mess up. I wouldn’t say they completely forgot about me before, but they have realized the importance of a kicker and punter that can keep them in the game. Putting the defense inside the 20 helps them out, and putting points up on the board is the main focus on the offense. Being able to do both is really satisfying for me.
Q: The offense may be experiencing inconsistency this year, but you seem to be a sure thing every time you kick. Are you nervous at all when you go out for a field goal attempt?
A: For field goals, I do get a little nervous. This is the first year I’ve done both kicking and punting. But when it comes to punting I feel pretty natural out there. I’ve done it for years.
Q: What happens when you miss a field goal? Do you get angry? Just brush it off?
A: You definitely want to brush it off and move on, but you want to learn from your mistakes. You have to wipe the slate clean. The missed field goal at Dartmouth — while it was disappointing, I had to go back out there and forget about it.
Q: What is your record for longest field goal?
A: In a game situation — 42 yards in high school. At the college level — 39 yards at this year’s Georgetown game.
Q: When did you start kicking in high school?
A: I played soccer until my junior year when I tried out for the varsity soccer team and didn’t make it. I got put on the JV team, and I scored 12 or 13 goals in the first two or three games. But the coach said he still wasn’t going to move me up to varsity. The football coach came up to me after that, and I decided to quit soccer and play football. I started kicking, but I also played wide receiver and safety.
Q: Do you have any rituals you do before a game?
A: I really attempt to relax before games — sitting in the locker room, listening to Dave Matthews. It really helps me out in the game. But I am a superstitious kicker — I wear a pair of compression shorts under my pants at every game. I do the same thing with an Under Armour T-shirt. I used to make sure I put the same kneepad in each knee, but I’ve stepped away from that a little bit.
Q: Do you have a specific warm-up technique?
A: On first down, I’ll stretch. On second down, I’ll take a couple drops. On third down, I’ll take a live practice kick into the net, and then head over to the box, and I’m ready to go. It’s kind of weird, but it’s just what I do.
Q: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I’m fairly musically inclined. I play the guitar, saxophone [and] piano, and I’m working on the harmonica right now. I’m kind of a closet music guy.
Q: Post-football and post-Yale, what do you want to do with your life?
A: Real life — most likely law school, probably contract law. I’m especially interested in the entertainment side of things. I’d like to take my music background and be a lawyer for a record label or band, or take my law degree and work in the front office of a sports team.