"How long have you been here?" Stewart asked him.
"Since nine," Ho said.
Says Stewart, "He was there for six hours every day." By then, he had worked out his routine: the steps, the focus, the deep breath, the holding out of the arms and the waving of the fingers, the ritual his teammates call "the voodoo stuff." Because he is of Chinese descent, many people who saw his gestures assumed that the inscrutable strumming had something to do with martial arts. Ho laughs. "No. It's to relieve stress," he says. "My fingers wiggle because I get so nervous. My arms go off to the right out of habit, I guess. I'd rather have them out there than in front of me, because otherwise they'd distract me."
The crowd, though, is no distraction at all. "I use the crowd to get all the adrenaline I can," says Ho. "It gets me confident. It would be easy to be intimidated by all those people, but I try to use them to my advantage, and not be abused by them."
Ho's prekick routine has been designed, from its beginning to its end, to groove the stroke. "It's my own way of making sure I get to the right spot, so I kick the same each time," he says. "I line my tee up, take aim—I hit the tee with my hand to make sure it's in the ground—then I take my steps back and make a little hook. My dad [who's a doctor] showed me the science of it, the arcs and the tangents."
Ho arrived at preseason practice this summer as a polished kicker with the best arcs and tangents around. Sophomore Billy Hackett was slated for the starting role, but Ho won it in the end. "Hackett did a nice job," says Holtz, "but every time I charted Reggie, he was 24 for 25, or 34 for 34. He was unbelievably accurate."
To put pressure on Ho, Holtz set the ball down on the 48-yard line during one summer drill and dared him to score from nearly midfield.
"I can make that," said Ho.
"No, Reggie," said Holtz, "that's not your distance."
Ho went into his dance and swung his foot, and the ball hit the crossbar and barely dribbled over.