By Nick Curcuru
Given the fact that Cambridge Who's Who has over 400,000 companies in their business index, it's no wonder Gloucester native Rick Gonsalves was surprised to be given an award from them.
Two weeks ago Gonsalves was awarded Professional of the Year by Who's Who in the industry of athletic training for his business, Cape Ann Kicking Academy.
"I was shocked," Gonsalves said. "I am just a little company and there are a ton of big companies that do the same thing I do. But it was a huge honor."
The Cambridge Who's Who is a publisher of executive, entrepreneurial and professional biographies. Their registry, which comes out each year, contains over 400,000 businesses. According to their Web site, inclusion in the registry is an honor limited to individuals who have demonstrated leadership and achievement in their industry and occupation.
Gonsalves believes that the fact that he runs a small company helped his cause, as his pupils receive more one-on-one time with Gonsalves, who has trained countless kickers over the years, including six that have received tryouts with National Football League Teams.
"A lot of those big programs are all about the money," Gonsalves said. "I'm in it to help. I love the kicking game and I love to help those interested improve their game."
The kicking and punting game are nothing new to Gonsalves. The 64-year-old Gonsalves is the top NFL kicking historian in the country as he has helped several professional kickers earn new contracts by compiling their career statistics. He appeared on NFL films earlier this decade and has authored two books about the kicking game, while working on a third. Gonsalves kicked and punted for Bridgewater State College in the late 1960s and has been running Cape Ann Kicking Academy since 1975.
Since he started his business 35 years ago, Gonsalves has helped hundreds of high school kickers and several college kickers. According to Gonsalves, he has coached kickers who have went on to play at schools such as Ole Miss, Union, Marist and Fairfield. Recently Gonsalves helped Gloucester's Derek Weekes break the school's single season field goal record in 2005 and also coached Everett kicker Igor Garcia, who kicked for the state champion Crimson Tide in 2006. He has also coached in elite kicking camps at Auburn University and helped the New York Jets with special teams during training camp in the 1970s.
Recently Gonsalves has been coaching clinics with USA football, which holds camps in all 32 NFL cities. During the past three years, Gonzalves has shared his knowledge to a camp at Gillette Stadium, where he estimates 430 coaches attend to watch the best kickers in New England.