The last four days have marked the move-in of new and returning students at Linfield College. But for members of the Wildcat football team, things have already been in full swing since the start of summer training camp.
Beginning Aug. 16, every player, both prospective and returning, was required to report to a two-week camp that would help get the team in playing shape, build character and team camaraderie and, of course, finalize the roster for the season.
Traditionally, head football coach Joseph Smith has kept details scarce as to what goes on during training camp. However, this season he and senior quarterback Aaron Boehme offered a few insights as to what these intense two weeks look like for the players and coaches.
The days last 12 hours for players and often over 16 hours for coaches, Smith said.
“Breakfast is at 7, and our first meetings are at 8,” Boehme said. “We’ve got a workout at 9:30, more meetings at 10:30, then lunch, practice at 2, dinner, a team activity and more meetings after.”
Boehme, last season’s Northwest Conference offensive player of the year, is bringing a team-oriented attitude into camp. Boehme said the veteran players of last year’s squad, which made it all the way to the national semifinals, are not allowing last season’s success to overshadow the work ethic needed for a good team to function.
And as for those workouts Boehme mentioned? They might not all be what you expect.
“We obviously have a lot of practice time in the afternoons, but we also do a lot of recovery work in the pool, on the field and even yoga,” Boehme said.
Coming into camp, Smith said that special teams, linebackers and the offensive line were the major areas he wanted to improve during the two-week intensive. With many key players lost to graduation last year, such as all-American guard Scott Millenbach and all-conference linebacker Jaymin Jackson, there are several big shoes to fill.
But, Smith said, players have already begun rising to the challenge.
“The defensive backfield has improved nicely,” Smith said. “Our young linebackers are coming along, as is our offensive line.”
Expectations and enthusiasm are running high, with the season’s first game only two weeks away on Sept. 11, a road rematch against California Lutheran, whom the ’Cats dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs, But with dozens of returning starters, young talent improving rapidly and a seasoned coaching staff, the sky’s the limit for this year’s Wildcat football team.