Dan Muzzalupo needed a partner, someone capable of bringing punting knowledge to the specialists company he wanted to build.
An old friend, Ron Coluzzi, who just wrapped up his Iowa punting career, came to mind. So he set up a tryout of sorts. Muzzalupo brought one of his punters, Nick Candre, to work with Coluzzi.
After a few punts and a short chat, the ball started booming off of Candre’s foot. The contact was more solid with higher hang time and longer distance.
“He brought out the best in him,” Muzzalupo said.
Muzzalupo was sold, and the two friends teamed up to start 3-Step Kicking, where they hope to bring more accessible training to specialists.
“We want him to bring out the best in every single athlete,” Muzzalupo said.
Improving the specialist experience
Coluzzi and Muzzalupo both hail from the Chicago suburbs. They met at a kicking camp in 2010 and quickly hit it off. Coluzzi would go to Central Michigan before transferring to Iowa. Muzzalupo kicked at Monmouth before becoming the Monmouth kicking coach.
They both grew up with the same experience. Proper training could be hard to find. High school and college coaches would give specialists a workout plan similar to the one linebackers had. Other specialists shared similar stories.
“We were tired of hearing that,” Coluzzi said. “We wanted to take an opportunity for coaches to realize we are called specialists for a reason. Specialists don’t need to be benching 400 pounds.”
Their goal is to provide specialized training for field goals, punting and kickoffs in Illinois.
Muzzalupo, who studied exercise science, designs a specific workout plan for each specialist, typically focusing on flexibility and strengthening the correct leg muscles for kicking.
“We are going to be able to give every athlete what they need to produce on the game field,” Muzzalupo said.
Kicking is different from other positions; it can draw a different kind of athlete who requires a unique skill set. They also work with them on the psychological part of kicking, teaching students how to move on from a missed field goal or shanked punt and not let the thousands of people in a stadium, or millions watching on TV, impact their performance — like Coluzzi needed to do after becoming a social-media sensation during the Iowa-Michigan game in November.
“You have to zone out every distraction and be able to just go into your basic mechanics,” Muzzalupo said.
An unexpected move
This wasn’t the plan for Coluzzi. He took a job with J.B. Hunt, a trucking and transportation company, after he finished punting for Iowa this fall. But, he said, he didn’t like the man he was becoming. He didn’t run into many people happy or energetic about their jobs, and his goal was always to be passionate about his work.
“I didn’t want to be one of those people who said I wish I had done this,” Coluzzi said.
So he quit. Now he’s transitioning into selling insurance while also starting up the kicking company, which works with many of its students in the Chicago suburbs.
“I kind of just do things wherever my heart takes me,” Coluzzi said.
It led him to 3-Step Kicking, where he passed the coaching “tryout” this winter. Coluzzi and Muzzalupo have big ambitions, hoping to have a 3-Step Kicking coach in every state, and would like to open indoor facilities for Midwest specialists to train in year-round.
We're proud to announce 3-Step Kicking! We're very excited to help out student athletes… https://t.co/LxaFSApvR5
— Ron Coluzzi (@roncoluzzi16) February 5, 2017
Both would love for this to take off and retire by the time they’re 40, but they aren’t putting together a one-year or five-year plan. Not yet. They’re too focused on getting the business off the ground — they’re still in the process of turning the company into a LLC — and building up a clientele by replicating how Coluzzi helped Candre.
“We will try to make each kid better at their craft so they have the opportunity to market themselves and go to these exposure camps and do really well,” Coluzzi said.