MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

August 2, 2010

Warriors working up

Off-season adjustments yield benefits, coach says

Any head football coach who takes over a program hopes the second season will be better and Lloyd Spotted Wolf has reason for such optimism at Bacone College.

The emphasis on an off-season conditioning program has Spotted Wolf looking forward to  2010. The Warriors finished the 2009 season at 1-8.

“They’ve never had an organized off-season program here,” he said. “Before, they would have an open weight room for anyone who had free time to go and lift.”

What is definitely different is that the Bacone coach brought in Thane Read, who worked three seasons on the strength and conditioning staff at the University of Arkansas. Some of the players he worked with included running backs Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders and Felix Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.

Read is also the Warriors’ offensive coordinator.

“This was an organized training program and Thane and I were the only ones with Division I training, strength and conditioning experience,” Spotted Wolf said. “I did it at University of New Mexico. We really stepped up with our agility and cardiovascular conditioning.”

Spotted Wolf saw the benefits.

“The players could see the positive changes to their bodies,” he said. “It’s vital to a college football program. It creates a sense of affiliation and at the same time, everybody wants to belong to something and work toward a common goal.

“I really think it’s going to make a difference this year. Not only are the players going to be bigger, faster and stronger, it’s also going to help their confidence. They believe they can match up with their opponents.”

The players say they gradually came to accept the conditioning program.

“At first, it was tough because we were not quite in shape,” senior offensive lineman Brandon Medelberg said. “We lifted weights in the spring and ran a little bit. This summer was hard core. We worked on our flexibility. The more flexible you are, the more speed you’ll have and less of a chance at getting hurt.

“This off-season conditioning is going to help us out. Not only is it going to help us be in better shape, but it’s also going to be team-bonding. It’ll help us grow as a team.”

Not only did Spotted Wolf and his staff stress physical development but also mental.

“We created a very hands on approach to our students’ academic success,” he said.

Spotted Wolf created a database that will let him know whether any players who have a grade point average lower than 3.0 are actually attending class. Assistant coaches will also monitor the players’ attendance and aware of their upcoming tests and assignments.

“We implemented it in the fall of last year in the hope of it making a difference in terms of eligibility and it already has,” Spotted Wolf said. “It’s still early, but we’re anticipating only losing three guys this season. When we arrived here last year, we did our eligibility certification and we had 37 players we inherited who were not eligible. That wasn’t this coaching staff’s fault.”

When the Bacone coach puts it all together — athletics and academics — he believes he has the reasons to be excited about the 2010 season.

“We’re optimistic,” Spotted Wolf said. “We’re going to have a lot better team on the field. I’m not making bold predictions, but I have high expectations. We’ll be a lot more fun to watch.”

Bacone has its first practice at 8:30 a.m. Thursday on campus. The Warriors kick off the 2010 season on Aug. 28 at Haskell Indian Nations University. The home opener is Sept. 4 against McMurry of Abilene, Texas.

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