Preparation time is over, football Gryphs hit the field

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – While the start of the Guelph Gryphons football training camp might signal the end of summer for those involved in the program, it also signals the real start of a new season.

“That’s why I’ve been smiling all morning,” interim head coach Todd Galloway said at the completion of Friday’s on-field sessions. “It’s football now. A lot of prep, a lot of time goes into it and you stress about a lot of details, but once you get out here and you see how excited the kids are, it’s just football, which is fun.”

Everything ran smoothly Friday as the players hit the Alumni Stadium turf for the first time following weigh-ins and meetings Thursday. That came as a relief for Galloway and his coaching staff following the usual hard work of the off-season.

“It was stressful,” he said of his off-season. “I wanted to make sure that I did these guys justice. I wanted to make sure all of the details were taken care of so we spent a lot of time making sure we did everything we could to help to prepare these guys to get ready for today and I was very impressed. I said that not only with the coaches, but the players, the tempo was good, the respect level for each other was good and it was a high-energy day.”

That respect for one another is something that’s being stressed this season as the team’s motto for this season is Rise Up As One.

“It’s something we’re actively doing,” Galloway said. “We’re a team that likes to get after it, but we have to understand that we’re one team, one family. That’s what I said to them there (in the breakdown at the end of the workouts). I love the fact that we’ve even got guys policing guys. If somebody accidentally knocks somebody over, they’re picking them up. This is a team that is going to come together and love each other.”

This training camp is also the first one for the Gryphons since the opening of their Pavilion that is located right beside the stadium’s grandstand.

“It’s incredible. We had breakfast in the building this morning. We practise out here and we’re going to go back, we’re going to eat and we’re going to have all of our meetings in the building,” Galloway said. “These guys are done by dinner and it gives them more time to get off their feet.”

During previous training camps, the players ate together in the University Centre and held meetings in various buildings in that area of the campus. That meant a lot of time spent walking to and from the stadium.

“A balance we find we’re trying to have is that we have all of this and we can be so much more efficient,” Galloway said. “We still have to respect their time because we want to do more, but it allows us to be so much more efficient, respect their time and get them off their feet longer.”

In all reality, the team’s training camp will come to an end with the preseason game against the Laval Rouge et Or in Quebec City Aug. 18. After that it’ll be a week of preparation for the season opener against the McMaster Marauders at Hamilton Aug. 26.

“That game (against Laval) is there and the reason we chose them is that we want to go against a perennial team that plays for a national championship almost every year,” Galloway said. “Right now we’re focused on us. We want to get our install in. We want to get better as a football team, but as that day approaches we’ll do a little bit of prep for them and then we’re going to take about our best 70 athletes down there and see if we’re ready to compete.”

And the goal each day during training camp is to get better.

“Today takes care of itself because the energy is so high and the guys are so excited to be here,” Galloway said. “It’s going to be all about mental focus as the install gets deeper, as the legs get tired. I hope the efficincy of more therapy and more down time is going to help a little bit with them getting off their feet, having a little more time to study their playbook so the focus stays up. As long as the focus stays up, I think we’ll get done everything we need to get done.”