The practice venues at Concordia University have been reinvigorated. Bulldog fall sports teams returned to action on Saturday (Aug. 15) in preparation for their upcoming seasons. As mandated by the NAIA, it was the first day that member schools could begin official team practices. The football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball programs were each scheduled for two sessions on Saturday.
Each of the fall sports is eligible to begin official games and events on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the exception of football. The Concordia football season is slated to kick off at Doane on Saturday, Sept. 12. It’s been a long time coming. No Bulldog team had held practice on campus since back in March. Although NAIA fall sport championships have been pushed to the spring, Concordia and its GPAC rivals remain committed to holding competition this fall.
In post-practice discussion, Bulldog head coaches expressed their anticipation for this day to arrive. The comments below came after each team had at least one practice in the books on Saturday.
Matt Beisel, Head Cross Country Coach
We met at about 5:15 in the morning and did our screening and handed out a few things. Once the field lights went on we went out on the track – over 50 of us – after many, many months apart. We did a very challenge workout, what I call a stamina builder where we did multiple sets of 800 at a certain race pace, 400 at a certain race pace, 200 at a really fast pace and 1,000 at a pretty fast pace. We basically never stopped moving the entire time. I think it was a huge confidence booster for not just the freshmen, but it was also good for our upperclassmen who have been putting in the work this summer. They have big goals for this season. There was extremely high energy and excitement coming off the workout knowing this was a tough workout and they absolutely rocked it.
In the last week of school we’ve all been hit with the realization of how badly we want to have competitive seasons and what we’re willing to do regarding COVID protocols to make that the highest likelihood. There is a big commitment to follow protocol and be careful so we can stay healthy as a team and be in the best position to win the GPAC for both the men and women this year.
Ben Boldt, Head Volleyball Coach
They were ready to go. We’re letting them know that we want them to focus on the process. It doesn’t need to be perfect right now but we do need to have effort. They were 100 percent ready on that front. It was a good first practice. We’re implementing our fundamentals right now.
They want to play. They’re doing whatever they need to do to make that happen. With all the protocols they say, ‘What do we need to do in order to play?’ With that whole mindset it’s about how we respond to anything that is put in front of us. That’s the most important thing – that we stay positive.
We love the chance to play. We have coaching friends all over who say, I wish I could get in a gym right now. To have that opportunity is something we’re not going to take for granted. We’re really excited to be in the gym and we’re going to make the most out of every day and every opportunity that we have.
Patrick Daberkow, Head Football Coach
The energy was awesome today. In the morning it was better than the afternoon, but for a day one practice out in the heat we had good energy. There was a lot of excitement. Our young people need to be active. They need to be around each other. This whole thing has really highlighted that. They’ve all been excited to get back together and we’ve been so excited to have them back on campus. It’s been good all the way around.
We had to run a few more hills at the beginning of conditioning than we might have in other years. Most of the returners really did a great job in the offseason. With new guys you never know what you’re going to get from a day one conditioning standpoint because you’ve never worked with them before, but I was happy with where we’re at. The percentage of guys who passed the conditioning test was higher than we expected it to be.
They’ve been great (with the protocols) because it’s football. If I’ve got to sit and wait 10 minutes to get my temperature taken and report symptoms, that’s not a problem. These guys will sit a lot longer than that if it means getting to play. It’s been good. Guys have handled that aspect really well.
Thomas Goines, Head Women’s Soccer Coach
I think it was probably the most fun first session I’ve been part of for a long time. We’ve been pent up and not able to come out and just play the game. That’s what we spent the first practice doing, just letting them get out and touch a ball and knock off the rust. It was very enjoyable. The energy has been positive. The girls are happy and excited. We’ll turn that into some focused energy when we get to the point of digging into the technical and tactical aspects of what we’re going to be doing.
I think they’ve been resilient. We’ve talked about that all summer and going into the fall, we’ve talked about controlling the things you can control. Every team in the entire NAIA is dealing with it. We just focused on making sure we came in fit and making sure we’re doing the little things in the offseason. The girls have been really good with dealing with the rules and regulations. They’ve been flexible as changes happen every week. I’m very proud of them.
There certainly is talent. It will be more telling when we get into a bigger side (full-field practice). There is a lot of technical ability and creativity. The attacking side of the ball looks good right now in terms of the creative ways they’re finding each other and finishing. I was very happy with that. We’ll see how we grow from there.
Jason Weides, Head Men’s Soccer Coach
Today’s goal for this first practice was to assess a little bit and teach them a few things. We did a few technical components, a little technical passing and a little technical dribbling. Then we actually played a little bit 7v7. You have an idea where guys will be but you never know until they get here and you see them. We saw great effort, great intensity and a great attitude. I think our entire team recognizes we’re light years away from where we need to be – and we’ll get there. Our goal right now is just to improve every single day and we’ll be focused on doing that.
There was just an excitement. Today felt different. We’ve done a couple fitness and conditioning sessions and this just felt different. We haven’t had practice as a team for Concordia Men’s Soccer for a long time. It’s been all spring and all summer up until this point. Guys are just excited to be back together. No doubt there was rust. Guys can work on their own individually over the spring and summer, but nothing compares to the team session. We just have a little rust to work out. It was fun just getting the ball back out there. Everybody was excited.