On Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m., the Trinity football team will have its first home game of the year against the University of the Redlands from Southern California. The game will be the first of many in a season that has been highly anticipated by players and coaches alike.
â€œCollectively since last year, our guys have made a point to work really hard to prepare for this upcoming season,â€ said Matt Uzzell, the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and alumnus of the Trinity class of 2001. â€œThereâ€™s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time management and sacrifice to get to where we are now.â€
Where they are now may already be ahead of where teams in the past have been at this point. Â This progress may be a surprise given the fact that Trinity began training so recently.
â€œThereâ€™s a new mentality, almost a workmanlike, earn-the-respect attitude instead of in years past, kind of a false sense of who were,â€ Uzzell said. â€œGreat leadership has allowed us to push the envelope and push the issue and really challenge these guys more than in years past.â€
â€œFrom a playerâ€™s perspective, weâ€™ve embraced the motto â€˜choose to work,â€™â€ said Brad Hood, senior captain and outside linebacker.
These team changes and the months of practice have given coaches and players alike great confidence that the upcoming season will be a success. Not only have they brought in 33 new first years, but the upperclassmen varsity members are also stepping up to the challenge.
â€œWeâ€™re finding out which of the new kids can help us out at the varsity level while at the same time bringing the level of the varsity guys who were here last year up and trying to make them better than last year,â€ said Jim Dawson, senior defensive coach and secondary coach. Â
This year the team has set some high goals for what they wish to achieve, not only during this season, but also in seasons to come.
â€œFrom a seniorâ€™s perspective, we obviously have the goals of go undefeated, win the conference â€” especially since itâ€™s our last time in the SCAC, the conference, we want to go out on a winning note,â€ Hood said. â€œBut another major part of measuring your success is leaving a legacy. Weâ€™ve brought in 33 new guys this year and we want to make sure we leave a legacy. I did an internship here in San Antonio this summer, so I was doing my best to lead workouts with some of the guys who were in San Antonio to help them grow and get used to what we do.â€
These high goals may not come easily, especially seeing as every football player is expected to be both an extraordinary student and athlete.
â€œOur model is be the standard,â€ Uzzell said. â€œThe standard is no matter what the situation is, you want to strive to be what everyoneâ€™s looking to, and we preach that in the classroom and on the field.â€ Â
Athletes have found that balancing academics and athletics can be a challenge. Both of these aspects of college life require time, energy and personal commitment. Hood, who is an engineering major, team captain, and resident mentor, said he understands the consequences of undertaking such a full plate. Â
â€œItâ€™s pretty tough. Itâ€™s kind of mind over mentality. Youâ€™re usually going off three hours of sleep, but you get used to it.â€ Hood said.
This tough mentality, paired with practice and teamwork, will be what primes them for success this season. But the coaches have a vision for their players that extends beyond this fall, and ultimately, university life. The football program at Trinity aims to instil values in its players that will help them become not only good players, but good people.
â€œItâ€™s a challenge and itâ€™s tough, but at the end of the day, your four years of being excellent as a player and a student is going to make for 40 years of being an excellent human being, and that is kind of the goal of everything weâ€™re doing here,â€ Uzzell said.
The boys open the season with four non-confernence matchups against Redlands, Millsap, Pacific Lutheran, and Chapman. On Oct. 8th they will face Texas Lutheran for their first conference game, a highly anticipated bout for both teams.
The full schedule for the football teamâ€™s season is posted at the Trinity Tigers website.