I’ve been struggling to think of what to write since signing with the Wolverines again as not much happens when you are this detached from the team. I believe the guys are back in pre-season training which is fantastic. Only three months until the start of the season so I am sure the new-look coaching staff are whipping the team into shape (probably indoors – apparently it snows in Finland?!). The team have retained Kari Levijola as Head Coach and have snapped up Peetja Mannila as Defensive Coordinator. There are also new positional coaches on both sides of the ball to add to the great team we had last year. I’m very much looking forward to getting out there in May.
For me, this off-season has been dominated by studying, training and teaching. I reached the halfway point in the write-up of my thesis yesterday which is exciting. I hope to have a completed first draft ready for the second week in March, which should give me plenty of time to improve it before the April deadline. I read through the first half yesterday and I’m pretty happy with what I am writing at the moment so let’s hope it continues.
I spend the majority of my day on my essay, but break it up with training each day. I am only training once each day so it’s a nice way to split the workload up. The good news is that having had a good first part of the off-season, I am stronger and more powerful than I was last year. My conditioning still needs work but I have started running hard this week to improve in that area. Once daylight hours get slightly longer I will be heading out with a couple of friends (David Rowlands – Chester Romans, Stewart Hay – Manchester Titans) for some football workouts. I am pretty confident that I am already in better shape than I was at the start of the season last year. This is good news….
The final part of my tripartite existence comes in the form of coaching. I do a little coaching at the school I used to work at which is great but pales in comparison to my volunteer coaching at Leeds Metropolitan University. The team is called Leeds Carnegie and they play in the British Universities American Football League (BUAFL). Head Coach Paul Wake is a former coach of mine from my university playing days. He helped me hugely last summer by breaking down my performances via game film and helping me to work on improving my game. I now coach for him as an offensive coach, mainly working with QBs and Backs. My housemate and land-baron Rodders is the Defensive Coordinator and another old friend from my university days Mike Cluskey is our Offensive Coordinator.
I get to Leeds as much as I can afford to as I thoroughly enjoy coaching there. The lads are top class. True student-athletes who are fully committed to becoming better football players. It is truly a pleasure to coach them. The second attraction is the programme itself. Leeds Met have great facilities and the Sports Union are great at providing support and finance to the team. Coach Wake has built a great programme of training combined with athlete education and ensures that all of the players buy into the objectives of the programme. It’s an excellent advert for British University Football and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
This year the programme is particularly lucky to receive expert tuition and assistance from Coach David Needs and Coach Dom Bonavetti who make regular trips to Leeds to assist in the building of the programme and the education of both coaches and athletes. Once again, both fantastic people and it’s a pleasure to spend time learning from them.
The team has struggled with results this year but I have been very impressed with the vast improvements made since our week one opener against Birmingham Lions. This year was always going to be tough having lost some key players from last year and installing a brand new offensive package. However the team are reacting well to it and we have a lot of freshmen and second year players who will be hoping to produce some results in the second half of the season. Speaking of which, we have the derby game against Leeds University this evening so I’d better wrap this up.
Well, that is a snapshot of my off-season so far. I will try and post again later this week.
Come on Carnegie!!!!!