Football team begins grueling spring training for fall season

As the Norwich University football team prepares to try and win their third Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title since 2009, the Cadets are beginning their next phase of offseason training.

After two months of strenuous workouts with Coach Jeff Kruger and his staff, the team will now begin spring practice.

“The weight-lifting program has been about getting bigger and stronger. I think most guys if not everyone improved their numbers since we began lifting in January,” said James Cejka, a junior linebacker from Brunswick, Maine.

The numbers Cejka is referring to are the basic lifts that the team tests to measure improvement. These lifts include the full squat, the power clean, and the bench press. Many players will say that the more important lifts are the squat and clean because they are a true test of athleticism.

Starting this week the team will move onto their spring practices before their weight lifting sessions. These practices occur four days a week for the next month.

“The best part about these practices is the competition between each other. We often have races, tug-of-wars, and various athletic exercises that breed competitiveness,” Cejka said.

Last year, two of his buddies went head-to-head in a race. Neither of the guys were “speed demons,” but the competitive race helps build speed. Having players compete with each other also instills that attitude and drive to win.

Besides competition and various football related drills, the team also does a lot of running to improve the cardiovascular condition.

“We take pride as a program in being in better shape than our opponents and it starts at spring practice,” Cejka said.

Ultimately it is an individual player’s responsibility to get in shape and maintain their condition over the summer before heading into camp, but the coaches lay down the foundations for this during spring practices.

Former linebacker John Taranto, from New Brittan, Conn., said “I love football. It was life, but spring ball was always a killer.” This shared team experience and spring practice always helped bring the team closer together, he noted.

While a former player looks back at his tour of duty at NU, new freshmen are preparing to participate in their first spring practices.

“I guess I’m just curious,” said Jacob Pezzini, a freshman offensive lineman from Melrose, Mass. “I have heard a lot of mixed things about it and I am just ready to roll.”

Freshmen defensive lineman Nick Delicata from Medford Lake, N.J., shares Pezzini’s thoughts. “I just want to experience one for myself,” he said.

The Cadets have had a successful last four seasons. In 2009 they were ECFC champions. In 2010, they advanced to a post-season bowl game. In 2011 NU won the ECFC again, and in 2012 they advanced to a bowl game and had a winning record in each of these seasons and only lost one in conference game at home.

The home field will have a new look to it this year as Sabine Field is under renovations and the field will now have artificial turf when the team takes the field in the fall.

The Cadets have no other expectations other than to win on this beautiful new facility. Hard work begins this week and will continue for the rest of the spring, to prepare for camp and their fall season ahead.

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