By Marin Bramblett
The fall semester of 2013 will see Southwestern’s newest football team in its first official season in over half a century.
This semester, the university welcomes players as they begin conditioning and practice. Although there are currently only 12 men practicing, Head Coach Joe Austin expresses confidence in their recruitment efforts.
“We are bringing in quality kids who are excited about Southwestern’s quality of education and are excited about a football team here,” Austin said.
It is quality over quantity right now with the team, as the coaches work with the players to build a culture and tradition for the new recruits they expect to be flowing in over the next two semesters.
“It’s difficult for them. There’s no one to show them the way and we don’t have much time,” Austin said.
Without a legacy and a tradition to guide the players, they are in a unique and difficult position that is only exacerbated by the rigorous academics of the university. Austin believes this will allow players to develop better time management and other leadership skills necessary for a solid team next fall.
“On Tuesday, October 9, we will be travelling to Ft. Hood to work with the Army. We will be participating in physical and mental challenges that develop leadership, problem solving skills, and team bonding. And it’s fun training,” Austin said.
For this training, Austin will be working with a Lt. Colonel that helped with Austin’s previous team at Hanover. Stationed now at Ft. Hood from Ft. Knox, Austin’s Army connection will be able to bring the team through Army training drills and help build team character.
“You don’t have role models, here. You are the role models. You will be the role models for the guys coming in,” said Tom Ross, associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the team.
Because of the unfamiliarity of this start-up situation, these men have a unique mindset. They have joined a new team where they will not get the opportunity to play competitively for a year. Austin believes all the men drawn to this team have the capacity to be good leaders.
“They can all learn to be leaders. It’s just a matter of who is ready now, and giving them the tools to be good leaders.”
With the addition of the new athletic teams, many campus community members expressed concern about maintaining the high academic standards of the university.
“Accountability is huge. Accountability to those who support football, to professors, to each other. They need to know the things they do affect others,” Austin said. “Have you noticed the signs coming into Georgetown? They now say ‘Home of Southwestern University’. That’s new. Even the community is excited about football.”
Austin hopes that the notoriety and visibility of the football program will improve and build a stronger sense of community in the university.
“We are going to change the whole feel of the weekends,” Austin said. “Tailgating will bring a lot of excitement. It will be a fun atmosphere.”
Football is also changing the school with new construction on the west side of campus. Currently, players workout in the weight room at odd hours to avoid crowding out other students. The new facilities will provide them with a space to work and will be more convenient for the rest of the health-conscious student body.
“Yeah, we’re pretty excited about the construction! It’s neat to see all the progress,” Austin said.
The football program recognizes this is a big change for the university. They have high hopes for next season and want to hit the ground running to make the school, the community, and themselves proud.