Sam Lenson, center, an instructor who works with high school football kickers to improve their performances, talks with Bonny Eagle juniors Brandt Abbott, right, and long snapper Caden Sullivan after a practice session at Thornton Academy in Saco last week. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

It’s difficult to be a kicker on a high school football team in Maine.

Outdoor training is only accessible for seven or eight months of the year. Coaches often use special teams as an opportunity to rest starters. And most one-on-one instruction is only available by driving hours to the greater Boston area.

But that has started to change.

Sam Lenson, a former kicker at the University of Maine, has carved out a niche working with high school place-kickers, punters and long snappers in Maine. In doing so, Lenson is the first and only private instructor in the state to work with such players. In just two years, he has built a clientele of athletes from more than 15 schools and has been sought out as a consultant by three high school football head coaches to work with players and coaching staffs during the offseason.

Lenson, 27, was a punter and placekicker at UMaine from 2013-17. He went on to become a special teams quality control assistant for the Black Bears while pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership, before launching Lenson Punting & Kicking in 2020.

“I think he’s a great coach,” and Brandt Abbott, a junior placekicker and punter for Bonny Eagle High. “I have seen a lot of improvement this summer and I am excited for the season.”


Kevin Gallic, a long snapper and recent graduate of Lewiston High, will continue his football career at the University of New Hampshire. He began working with Lenson in December.

“I’m 10 times better than I was when I started,” Gallic said. “He’s really helped me with the smaller, more technical things. He focuses on improving the player over immediate results.”

Sam Lenson works with Bonny Eagle junior Brandt Abbott at Thornton Academy on Tuesday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

After injuries derailed his playing career at Maine, Lenson found solace in helping other kicking specialists on the team. Once he finished his undergraduate degree in 2018, Lenson’s quality control role with the Black Bears allowed him to continue to do more of the same.

“My job was to work with the specialists, with recruiting, breaking down film, with practice plans,” he said. “I loved the aspect of hands-on work.”

When Lenson left the University of Maine, he began working as a physical education teacher at Noble Middle School in Berwick. He joined the football staff at Noble High for one year as the special teams coordinator.

“I realized that no one was kicking, and realized that if a team could kick, they would have a huge competitive advantage,” said Lenson. “I wanted to do something.”


Lenson soon launched a website to promote his fledgling business and began reaching out to coaches and players through email and social media. One of his first students was Michael Lewinski, a placekicker and punter for Wells High. Lewinski, who will be a junior this fall, made the switch from soccer to football ahead of his freshman year. He has been impressed with Lenson ever since they started working together two years ago.

“I love the focus on the fundamentals with Sam,” Lewinksi said.

Abbott, the Bonny Eagle kicker, has been training with Lenson over the summer to help improve his technique. Abbott primarily has focused on improving his ball contact.

Sam Lenson works with Bonny Eagle kicker Brandt Abbott during a practice session at Thornton Academy last week. Lenson, a former University of Maine punter and placekicker, has has offered private instruction to players from 15 high schools in Maine. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“Every session, (Lenson) starts me off with one-step lean drills to focus on getting good contact,” said Abbott. “Sometimes he will have me kick at 40 percent of my power just to focus on perfect ball contact and nothing else.”

When lining up for a field goal or extra-point attempt, Abbott does something unusual. He takes his three steps back from the ball, but before taking the standard two steps left, the righty kicker places his left hand on his left hip, with his pinkie parallel with his leg and his thumb pointed outward at a perfect 90 degree angle. Abbott then follows his thumb, stepping sideways, thus creating a perfectly square approach to the ball – something many kickers struggle to accomplish.

“(Lenson) told me to do that,” said Abbott. “Especially on the hashes, putting your thumb out, it gets you that 90-degree angle. It keeps me straight and going right where I want.”


In order to replicate in-game scenarios, Lenson schedules overlapping training sessions with both snappers and punters/placekickers. This allows the pair to work together, to help prepare them for the season ahead.

Gallic, the Lewiston High grad, was impressed by Lenson’s positive demeanor as well as his technical coaching.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s important to want to keep learning,” said Gallic. “I think he does a great job accomplishing that.”

Bonny Eagle placekicker Brandt Abbott winds up for a kick as instructor Sam Lenson holds the ball. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

In addition to offering 90-minute private lessons for roughly $90 a session, based on location, Lenson also has worked as an offseason consultant with coaches and players at Camden Hills, Gorham and Leavitt high schools.

“Coaches are starting to realize if they can exploit the special teams in Maine, that it can be a winning edge,” Lenson said. “Special teams plays a massive role in the game.”

Chris Christie, head coach of the Camden Hills eight-man football team, is thrilled with the impact Lenson has made with his team.


“I don’t think that any other high school should work with Coach Lenson,” Christie said with a chuckle. “I don’t think that anyone should take him, and they should all just leave him to us.”

While working with the Camden Hills program, Lenson worked individually with the specialists, as well as with the coaching staff on special teams strategy, and how to implement that strategy into practice plans.

Though some coaches might struggle to cede power within their program, Christie welcomed the opportunity for his specialists to learn from someone more qualified than himself.

“I recognize my weaknesses,” said Christie. “I try and put people that are better than me in certain situations, hence my offensive and defensive coordinators. Sam has probably forgotten more about special teams today than I have ever learned.”

Sam Morrison, the head coach at Gorham High, also solicited Lenson’s services for his team.

“Obviously, his resume gives him validity right off the bat,” Morrison said. “He was awesome. The kids had a great time and he was super helpful.”

Lenson is excited about the future of kicking specialists in Maine.

“I am just trying to bring special teams to a new level in the Northeast,” Lenson said. I really think we have the players to do so. We just have to give them the opportunity to go out there and show it.

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