Well for those who partake, there is nothing like going into training camp for a player. It is the beginning of a long process of ups and downs. There are huge sacrifices and great rewards. Training camp itself isn’t usually a player’s favorite time, but it is a rite of passage to the upcoming football season. When you go to camp there is a mix of emotions, and guys need to be able to handle those emotions and execute under harsh conditions.
Excitement: It’s the start of football season. You know when you go to camp that a game is soon to follow. Also it is the first time you will put on pads which is a much-anticipated event through your offseason workouts. There is a different feel from summer workouts compared to official practice.
Anxiety: You get that feeling that your life outside of football is over. Over the next five months your coaches basically own you. You know that you are going eat, sleep, and breathe football. You know that you are about to put your body through its own personal hell. There is a certain sense of dread that starts about a week before camp starts.
Mental and Physical Fatigue: Camp is incredibly taxing on your body and mind. It takes a certain type of person to make it through a fall camp. From the heat, I remember playing in two-a-days in 110+ heat, and people have no idea how disciplined you have to be not only to just make it through it, but much less to learn and improve in the process. During camp would be the only time when I could not wait for school to start, because then there would be no more two-a-days; practice during school semesters is limited to hours and not days. In short, you get some of your “life” back, but not much. Still, anything at that point is good for the psyche.
Sights and Smells: You arrive the first day, tired because you haven’t woken up that early since last year at camp. Then there is the smell of the locker room. Locker rooms have a distinct smell and sound. It’s pure testosterone. There is foul language and no one is safe from getting ragged on. Locker rooms are awesome and awful at the same time, but it’s something that fuels the athlete.
The Gridiron: You smell the scent of fresh grass clippings. The grass is perfect the first day but as the days and weeks go buy the field will take a beating just like your body. Then you realize, usually when you stretch because you aren’t playing or concentrating on football, how hot it is. Especially because the last time you were fully dressed in pads the weather was a lot milder. The grass is both your friend and foe. Visually, it’s pleasant, but then when you’re being hurled to the ground within a mass of humanity you’re reminded that even soft grass can hurt too.
The Coaching Staff: They ask players while they stretch on the first day, “you ready”, “You excited”, it is always the same, and it becomes intense really fast.
This year for the Arizona Wildcats there is a new coaching staff. This wrinkle enhances the abovementioned emotions because you add an element of unknown to the entire situation. There are a lot of adjustments. Will the coach’s attitude change?
There are a lot of coaches who outside of football act like your best friend, but as soon as the pads come on it is impossible for them NOT to scream at you. Also, you don’t know a lot of little things that are taken for granted.
For instance, Matt Scott not only has to learn a new offense, but also a new cadence. With the option offense there are going to be queues for motion-backs, blocking changes, audibles and so forth. As far as new coaches go, the honeymoon is over. Now Rich Rod has done all the Public Relations campaigning he can do. Moving forward it’s all about the product on the field. Now every action will be under a microscope. While the team works out its inevitable kinks, it will also have to face adversity and criticism.
As the coaches and players come together, it is inevitable that change will happen. Hopefully, it’s change for the better. However, no matter the changes, subtle or major, there are always certain things like sights, smells, sounds and the butterfly emotions that will always be around as long as there is football and training camp.