The Seton Hill University (SHU) football team has begun training for their fall season with new head coach Isaac Collins and his coaching staff.
Collins was hired in January of 2013 after previous coach Joel Dolinski and his coaching staff were released in the fall of 2012.
The football team has approximately 80 student athletes. While many were recruited from the local area, there are some from Florida, Southern California, Michigan and Maryland.
“The Internet has changed the way we recruit. Instead of mailing pamphlets to potential athletes, all they have to do is look online for us and send us a YouTube link,” said Collins. “It started with VHS tapes, then DVDs, and now it’s all digital. We shoot them an email or give them a call—evaluation and decisions are instant.”
Collins has created the blueprints for their fall season and has them making “steady progress and headed in the right direction.”
He noted that their academics were a main focus this fall as he begins them on his regiment. “I’m an old school kind of guy—get your nose to the grindstone and work through the bumps in the road.”
While coaching previously at Lehigh University and The Citadel, he developed an academic game plan.
“We start by putting all the athletes in an Evening Study Period (ESP) and monitor their needs. There aren’t any social distractions—it’s just time to study and put school first,” said Collins.
They might be assigned a tutor or extra study time, depending on their needs. If ESP isn’t enough for them, then they’re bumped up to a Bootcamp Study Hall. Here, the staff monitors their assignments, tutor appointments and syllabi.
“We want them to be self-sufficient men on the field—and off the field as well. Here, we’re teaching them time management, responsibility and discipline,” said Collins. “On average, three months in this system is what it took to mold a successful student athlete.”When the team isn’t studying, they’re probably training on the field or in the weight room. Collins noted that their biggest challenge would be the “potential for something to cross our paths and our ability to bounce back from it” because of the small campus size and tight schedules.
The team is currently training with drills and scrimmages to prepare for their first game against Fairmont State University in West Virginia on Sept. 5. They also used to belong to the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC).Now, SHU will be facing them as part of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
Activities and commuter life director Jaime Steel and sports management professor Robert Zullo helped arrange for a bus trip to Fairmont to support the team.
“It’s nice that a lot of the PSAC schools are a lot closer. It’s easier going to a game an hour or two away versus five or six hours away,” said Collins. “We’re excited and want to encourage the community to rally around and support our guys. It’s nice to see friendly faces in the crowd. We can’t wait for the day that we hoist a championship.”