Mark Thomas

When does football season really start?

Posted February 17, 2009

I’ll never forget January of 1995. I had just finished my first college football season, and it was awesome. We had just won the Peach Bowl, and I was so glad to get some time off to myself. Fitting in classes around film study, meeting more than Congress, and grueling practices was a difficult way to start college, but very rewarding with the success we had on the field. That’s when I was informed about something that was talked about in the locker room, but definitely was NEVER mentioned on my recruiting visits, Winter Workouts!!! You get your evenings all to yourself, however sunrise belonged to my coaches. 6 am winter workouts started in what was the biggest “wake-up call” of my life, literally!

Fans of college football see what happens to their team 12 times a week on Saturdays from August to November. Die-hard fans also check out scrimmage s in August and April. NOBODY gets to see their team in January and February. Not that you would want to either. There’s nothing like the smell of a 6 am weight room, full of sixty or seventy guys who just rolled out of bed (showerless) puking their guts out from what was eaten (or drank) the night before. You find out real quick what good kitty litter can do.

Do you really want to know where champions are made? Do you want to see the part of football, where guys earn their scholarships? Then here it is.

Success in December starts with the January morning workouts. It’s the farthest point from actual football you can get on the calendar. Unless, your team went undefeated, there was a lot of unfinished business that was left on the field the season before. It’s a helpless feeling to think about the “what-ifs” of the season before. Not to mention, you’re going to workout in a room without any fanfare, and now that you think about it, your fans are actually more excited about a group of recruits that are going to be brought in to take your position!! That “bad taste” in your mouth will feed your soul motivation. And you’re going to need it!

You show up at 6 am to a group of coaches that apparently stayed up all night to come up with drills that they lifted from a terrorist group. An hour of footwork, agilities, sprints, and God knows what else. No breaks. Just to make sure you’re not waiting around they split you up into groups to keep the lines shorter. About half way through, your brain has been telling you that you have made a big mistake. College football is not for you!! Humans should not be subjected to this sort of torture. You ignore what it’s saying. The leg muscles start to give way. These aren’t cramps that happened twenty minutes ago. YOUR BODY WANTS TO SHUT DOWN!!!

You come to a crossroad in your life. There is a decision that has to be made. Are you going to be a quitter or a CHAMPION. I have seen on many occasions guys leave the workout room, not just for the morning but for good! This is the point at which a light bulb comes on. Like a scene out of a movie in which you can see things nobody else sees. These coaches aren’t trying to get you in the greatest physical shape of your life (which is happening). They’re developing your mental toughness. Your mental fortitude. You can’t quit, you won’t quit, you are going to squash any question in your mind of giving in. You are no longer building body strength, but rather mental resolve. In August, when it’s a hundred degrees and you want to end it, your coach can give you a reason to keep up the fight. “You didn’t all those winter workouts to give in now!”

Just remember fans, next September, when it’s the fourth quarter and your team needs a big stop. That 300 pound D-Tackle out there with his hands on his hips doesn’t need you to remind him to fight through it. He can because he’s climbed that mountain before, and he’s about to do it again. GAME ON!

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  • acsoccer87 Feb 18, 12:36 a.m.

    Great article by MT...unfortunate guys like dookstate have to come in without even reading it and make a smug comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the content of it. It has to suck to be bitter for the majority of your life. Wake up and be positive instead of trying to tear people down by every comment you make. And if you're going to be negative at least have a valid point.

  • cdcd48 Feb 17, 9:19 p.m.

    The point of Thomas's article is not a distraction from the current sports being played. Thomas's article describes the dedication that all athletes must have to play at the college level and beyond, something that is usually and easily overlooked by fans---especially those with no personal knowledge.

    As for Dook's reply, great reading comprehension skills---oh wait, is Dook one of the myriad toothless sycophants that call themselves "UNC fans", but yet have no real connection to the academic side to that institution? If not, Dook's a terrible representative for UNC-Chapel HIll.

    Great article, Mark Thomas!

  • DookStateSucks Feb 17, 2:45 p.m.

    Typical Wolfpacker. Another, just wait until football, basketball, etc. Whatever is NOT being played at the current time.

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