With just under eight weeks until the beginning of the Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s football training camp, head coach Michael Faulds is still working on the structure of his new team.
The Golden Hawks will open their 2013 campaign on Aug. 25 in Guelph. In the last six months, the club has gone through a new head coach and a revamp of the program. And with that revamp, Faulds has emphasized that no one has their spot secured.
“That was my first message to the team when I had my first meeting in January,” Faulds said in a phone interview as he drove back to his home in Toronto from working in Waterloo. “I don’t care if you’re going into your first year, your third year or your fifth year. Everyone is equal right now and it’s a clean slate.”
After the resignation of former head coach Gary Jeffries at the end of last season, where Laurier finished with a 3-5 record and backed into the playoffs to be defeated 34-0 by the Queen’s Gaels, the program hired Faulds, a 28 year-old former offensive coordinator with the York Lions.
In the last six months, Faulds has worked individually with players that were struggling academically or athletically, and held workout sessions as well as weekly practices at RIM Park.
This training has been Faulds’ way of making his players accountable, as well as changing the mentality of the team going into a new season.
Now, with only eight weeks until training camp is in full force, Faulds plans on using the off time to get his team ready.
“I think just trying to make sure that everyone’s accountable,” he said. “During the offseason, it’s hard to control your student athletes when they’re not here [with] only about 30 per cent of our players actually staying here in the summer.
“So, I need to make sure I’m constantly sending e-mails about the workouts and make sure everyone’s working really hard.”
Faulds mentioned that it’s hard for the fall programs to have all of their players at their full potential because of the summer coming right before training camp. But he again emphasized accountability for each player that will step on the field in late August.
“It is just important that you give it your all on a daily basis,” he said.
While the players are consistently pressured, Faulds said he doesn’t feel any of the outside pressures put on him in his first year as a head coach because he “already put those pressures on [himself].”
“Coaches naturally get judged by game day, [but] what I keep telling people is that we’re going to play anywhere from eight to 12 games this year,” Faulds said.
“What we’re really focusing on is the other 355 days of the year. We’re going to win all of those days as well.
“So we’re going to be judged on our win-loss record, but I’m making sure that our players are winning in the classroom, winning in their social lives, winning in terms of studying and families and working out.”