Saturday, August 14, 2010
Just got back from Troy's second scrimmage of the fall, where I watched with about 250 of my closest friends. As a rule, I usually focus on doing my job without intruding too much on the players (not because they're not interesting or not accommodating, but because they've got so much on their plate that they don't need me bothering them a whole lot), but I love just chatting with them about stuff, especially away from football. Standing on the sidelines at this scrimmage, where so many starting jobs are being hotly competed for, you gain a respect for how well these guys handle the strong competition while still keeping the good of the team foremost in their minds. At a lot of the skill positions, Troy has such significant depth that any one of 3 or 4 men can win the starting jobs, but they know ultimately they'll all share snaps and have chances to excel. Still, I hurt for them sometimes when they came off the field today after missing a block or making a mistake and knowing it could possibly mean a step backward. The coaches get to them quickly though on the sidelines; my guess it's because they see the best teaching moments can come immediately after a mistake, and they want to keep their focus on the next play, not always the last.
Because all of my work during the season comes from the broadcast booth, I love getting the perspective from the sidelines once in a while. Our home radio booth is right next to the coaches booth, so I get to see them work and plan and watch their reactions when a play is successful or not. What I sometimes forget during a game is the amazing work done by Chuck Ash, Alyson Gramley, and the staff and students of the Troy Athletic Training Staff, as illustrated at left. Whether it's at a game or at practice, they are always busy on the sideline, and have so much responsibility that I don't see how they handle everything: injury treatment, hydration, etc., plus the stuff they do away from the stadium lights: injury prevention, treatment, rehab, taping, paperwork. We were talking with Chuck on the sidelines before the scrimmage and one of the aides came over to him and said the coaches were asking about the availability of a certain player. Chuck knew his availability, the nature of his condition, and his current rehab status, all off the top of his head! Multiply that by about 105 and you begin to understand the depth of his involvement in the well-being of the Troy student-athlete. I know if you asked Coach Blakeney the unsung heroes of his program, Chuck and the staff would be at the top of his list.
On the subject of the work on the field today, Jerry Miller, Ryan Hayden, and I compared notes after the scrimmage and we all feel a lot better than we did before the scrimmage. It seemed that we were constantly looking at the roster each play, because we all noticed a lot of new names and new numbers were making a lot of plays. There were a lot of fans, too, led by the tireless Miss Anne Williams (yes, she paces at the scrimmages, too; not just at the games); I saw her afterwards and she was really proud of the former Trojans who'd played the night before in the NFL preseason games. As always, Brian, Ty, and Kinley Ross were up in the stands and rooting on the Trojans!
Another scrimmage next week, plus the annual Fan Appreciation Day next Saturday; if you haven't made your plans to be there, consider it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a great time to be a Trojan!