Insight into a career
GVSU kicker Joel Schipper becomes fourth freshman to start in the last ten years
Back in February, as head coach Matt Mitchell announced the 2013 signing class, he was asked if he
expected any incoming freshman to make a difference on the field in the upcoming season.
The first player he mentioned was kicker Joel Schipper. Fast-forward seven months to now and Mitchell’s premonition rang true, as Schipper handled the field goal duties in the 38-17 season
opening win over Azusa Pacific University.
If Schipper was nervous about making his first collegiate start for the Grand Valley State University
football team, it didn’t show in the results. The true freshman was 5 for 5 on extra points and
drilled home his only field goal attempt—a 23 yarder—in the season opening win.
“Coming into it, I was kind of nervous,” Schipper said. “I had the pre-game jitters like everyone had.
I knew coach Mitch got us focused up in the beginning of the game, and I knew I couldn’t get too
overconfident about it, and I was just kind of in the middle, and I think I really came out with that
and it showed on the field.”
Maybe the nerves weren’t nearly as evident because of the high-pressure situations Schipper faced
in high school. Converting the game-winning field goal in your team’s state championship game
can prepare you for your career debut in front of 13,659 fans, the eighth largest crowd in Lubbers
“That kick I made in the state championship game gave me a lot of confidence, and I kind of take
that every game and kind of remind myself and that really helps me out,” Schipper said. “But it
definitely helped me coming in and helped me on the big stage.”
It also may have helped since every kick Schipper has attempted in camp has had high implications.
Both Schipper and junior Marco Iaderosa battled for the field goal kicking job all throughout camp
and the practices leading up to the first game. A strong final week by Schipper gave him the
“They were kind of neck and neck and the week before the game, we kicked on Monday, Tuesday
and Thursday and he made them all,” Mitchell said. “So based on that, he was the no brainer to do
it and now that he made all those kicks on Saturday, we’re not looking back. He’ll be our kicker the
rest of the year, and he did a good job of hitting them through. They were firm and there wasn’t
any doubt about them. Great news is that he’s a freshman, and I think he’ll keep getting better.”
Schipper is only the fourth true freshman to start at GVSU since Mitchell joined the coaching staff in
2004. The other three that have started include, Brandon Carr, Deshawn Stevens and Jimmy Brezik.
“Now that I see what he can do, I expect him to make all of his extra points,” Mitchell said. “We’re
still working to identify what his range is on field goals. I feel really confident 15 in, and then we’ll
keep working him and see where he’s at from like 15, 20, 25, 30, and see where his limit is.”
From the time he graduated, to opening camp with the rest of the team, Schipper had to adjust to the collegiate style of kicking. In high school, the width of the goal posts is 23 feet, 4 inches wide,
but in college, the distance between goal posts is 18 feet, 6 inches. He also had to get accustomed
to kicking his field goals without the aid of a tee.
“The goalposts were really different and kicking off the ground, which I did a little bit over the
summer,” Schipper said. “It’s hard to prepare yourself for coming in when the whole speed of the
game is different.”
Schipper also had to get used to his new holders and snapper, but after working with them, he has
now developed a strong chemistry between them. After a strong camp and first game, Schipper has
won the approval of his teammates.
“We all have a lot of confidence in him,” said junior quarterback Isiah Grimes, who holds the kicks
for Schipper. “We know he’s made big kicks in high school in the state championship game.
Everyone’s really confident with him and are excited to have him kick for us.”