Football heads to spring training


Augustana football players practice during their first spring practice on Sunday, April 2. The team will have a total of 16 practices now that they have completed their 2017 draft offseason program. The draft program was a new regimen for the team. Photo by Nate Wendt.

Offseasons for teams can feel like boring drudgery as athletes often weight lift or practice individually. The Augustana football team decided to change their offseason by introducing a new and exciting regimen.
The offseason training was formulated into a competition of nine Augustana football players composed teams. Nine players were elected as the team captains and selected people for their team in an NFL style draft.
Sophomore John Asquini was a captain for team youngblood, the team that won the offseason competition with 442 points, which was 31 points ahead of the second place team, team America. He said the selection process for his team was a memorable experience.
“It’s not designed for you to pick your friends,” Asquini said. “It also causes you to step out of your comfort zone and build a bond with new people.
One night before the offseason began, the team gathered for a night very similar to the NFL draft. They had draft rounds and picks, the No. 1 pick, and more. It was a night that Asquini said the team really enjoyed.
“It was so cool because the guys got really dressed up and really into it,” Asquini said. “We were having a lot of fun with it.”
Once the teams were picked, the competition between the nine teams began. Augustana Offensive Coordinator – Running Backs Josh Kotecki said the teams could earn points in a variety of ways such as through breaking weight lifting records and performances during team competitions.
But there was more to the offseason competition than the physical. Teams earned points based off their grade sheets that they turned in each week. A’s and B’s would earn points while C’s earned zero. D’s and F’s earned negative points.
There were also volunteer points awarded to teams who dedicated their time to communities. Asquini said his team traveled to Peoria, Ill.  to volunteer at a soup kitchen. He also said other teams volunteered their time in the Quad Cities.
Kotecki said the winners of the 2017 draft would be treated to a reward ranging from a t-shirt to possibly a dinner. But with winners, there are also losers. Bell and Kotecki said teams at the bottom were influenced by factors such as teammates becoming injured, quitting the team and more.
But that doesn’t mean the whol draft was all for naught. Reflecting on the new offseason workout, Asquini said that it went very well.
“Everyone was very excited,” he said. “There was some friendly smack talk but that helps build team chemistry.”
Kotecki also said before the draft, the coaches set high goals for the team. Kotecki confirmed the team met and exceeded those standards and did an excellent job of training.
Head coach Steve Bell said the idea for the offseason came from a similar program he did as the head coach at Monmouth College.
“It’s not unique,” Bell said. “But we took it up a level and built it to fit with who we are. Coach Kotecki did a great job of communicating the premise of it to the players.”
Bell said they’ll keep the program, but modify it after they get some feedback from the captains of the teams and some of the players.
“It’s been a big positive,” Bell said. “We’ll evaluate it and see if there are areas we can get better. We don’t want to keep it the same every year otherwise it becomes a habit.”
The offseason draft ended last Thursday, so now the nine teams are coming back into one for the 16 spring practices they have to prepare for their fall 2017 season.