As dozens of student-athletes return to Valparaiso in preparation for the fall sports schedule, a heightened level of enthusiasm flows through campus. A mild late summer creates a comfortable football training camp for the Crusaders as the University of North Dakota awaits them in just 24 days.
"You can feel an air of excitement. The kids have a really high level of confidence right now so we'll have to see how that plays out in the next three weeks," head coach Dale Carlson said Monday after a team walk-through.
Officially, training camp opened Sunday as players were greeted with customary administrative responsibilities and team meetings. Monday morning represented the first time the 2013 Crusaders stepped on Brown Field as a team. In addition to the morning walk-through, the team conducted lifting tests and a 300-yard shuffle as part of a busy Monday slate.
"So far before actually having a practice, it's been a pretty good day," Carlson said.
The first day of training camp carries equal parts optimism and uncertainty. The strength and conditioning of returning players can represent a question mark for coaches as several weeks have passed since the last time many student-athletes were on campus. However, Carlson was happy to see the majority of his players maintain a solid work ethic during the off season.
"Most of our returning guys did well in their conditioning run. We had some young guys that ran well, too. I was pleased with that," Carlson concluded.
The Crusaders will strap on the helmets in the first official practice Monday evening at 6:45 pm. Single practices follow until Saturday when the team will hold its first two-a-day.