Texas Wesleyan’s football team held its first practice Tuesday on the campus mall.
The team endured an almost three-hour practice, but head coach Joe Prud’homme felt it was a good “kickoff” point for the team.
“It’s a starting point,” Prud’homme said in an interview during practice. “It’s a little warm, it’s the first time they’ve done it, and it’s the first time they’ve ever been out here together.”
The 116-player team ran through warmups quickly, then began a series of rotating workout and conditioning stations to gain strength and stamina. Thirty to 40 people watched, including university President Frederick Slabach.
“They got after it,” Prud’homme said, “their attitude was good, and their enthusiasm was up.”
Strength training and conditioning are the team’s main focuses for the fall, so that by the time they need to scrimmage in the spring, the groundwork is already there, Prud’homme said.
“Our conditioning level has got to go way up,” Prud’homme said, “but it’s only the first day. I kind of expected this.”
Many players were taken aback by the heat, said fullback Zack Lanham, a criminal justice major.
“I think a lot of players were in for a big surprise,” Lanham said. “It’s hot outside, the coaches worked us, and we have a lot of work to get to done.”
But the players and coaches were excited to begin working out together, and even welcomed spectators to watch, like Jeremy Johnson, a sophomore at Cedar Valley College.
“I decided to come up and take a look,” Johnson said. “I’m very excited. I can’t wait to actually get in pads and make something happen.”
Johnson came to watch the practice to see if Wesleyan is worth transferring to.
“The main reason is to be able to go down in history at Texas Wesleyan,” Johnson said.
Prud’homme said he expected the players to be polite and respectful to all of the spectators in order to create a positive image for Wesleyan football.
“You’ve just got to set a high bar, and they’ve got to be the ones to meet it – and they want to meet it,” Prud’homme said.
The spectator turnout was great and everyone was excited for the practice, Prud’homme said.
“Thanks to everybody that came out,” Prud’homme said, “and everybody that showed a lot of support for us.”
A football team that lifts up Wesleyan is a high priority for the program, Prud’homme said.
“We know that it’s our job to do a good job of representing the school,” Prud’homme said. “We just want to have something everybody is proud of.”
According to a schedule provided by Prud’homme, the team will be practicing every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on the mall for the remainder of the semester.
The team will begin its 2017 season on the road in Kansas on Sept. 2; the first home game will be 2 p.m. on Sept. 9, when Wesleyan plays Millsaps College, according to a scheduled released Friday. The full schedule is available at txwes.edu.