They say April showers bring May flowers, but so far this month, the only thing the rain has brought is scheduling issues for Truman State University Football. The Bulldogs had to improvise the location of their spring training exercises because of the recent downpour and Stokes Stadium renovations
Dave Rector, vice president of administration and finance, says despite the rain, the construction at Stokes Stadium is progressing right on schedule, adding that the construction team’s efficiency does so well when the weather does permit, that the project can afford a little rain delay. Rector says the renovations began largely because the track was not up to NCAA standards — which prevented Truman from being a regular host of track meets — and to increase the size of the field to accommodate soccer matches. He says the updates to the stadium are coming at a convenient time because the field’s turf — which typically lasts about ten years — is in its ninth year.
In the meantime, Truman football has had to adapt to the construction. The situation has not been helped by the weather. Head coach Gregg Nesbitt says, the team had originally planned to practice on Truman’s rugby field, but with the seemingly never-ending downpour, use of the grass field has become unfeasible. Nesbitt says though the team’s original plan to use the rugby field is momentarily falling through, Kirksville High School has offered to let Truman use its turf field for night practices.
“We were supposed to have four practices in at this point, but obviously with this inclement weather and the facilities, it’s been a slow start,” Nesbitt said. “What we did get though was pretty solid, and a nice start — I think the kids were really happy to get out of the weight room and get to the field.”
Nesbitt says one thing the weather will not change is the substance and approach of the team’s spring program.
“This process is all about finding the 20 toughest guys on each side of the ball,” Nesbitt says. He says everyone starts with a clean slate, whether they’re a returner or a new addition to the team. Nesbitt noted habits are easier to make than they are to break, and he said the same principle will apply to the team as it tries to establish good habits early before the season officially starts.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jaden Barr says at its core, spring ball is about individual improvement on the little things and an overall focus on becoming more cohesive as a team. When explaining what could be improved, Barr says last season the special teams put in the extra effort and gave the offense an excellent starting position time and time again. He says this season, he and the rest of the offense will make the extra effort to capitalize on the special teams’ field positioning more often.
“We’ve been watching a lot of film over the off season, and we missed a couple big plays on the field last year,” Barr says. “If we can start to capitalize a bit more on that, we can come away with a lot more points, and really take that next step to becoming a better football team. That’s really what spring ball is about — it’s attention to details, and being great at the little things. That’s the difference between a team going 5-6 and a team going 9-2 or 11-0.”