The arrival on campus on Monday of more than 100 football recruits marked the start of a new era for both Stetson Athletics and Stetson University.
The fresh-faced recruits reported for the start of the first football training camp in more than 50 years. The players and their families were welcomed to campus during a late afternoon meal at the Carlton Student Union by head coach Roger Hughes, Director of Athletics Jeff Altier and Stetson University President Dr. Wendy Libby.
“We have 391 days, one hour and 17 minutes until our first game,” Hughes told the crowd, which included many members of the University faculty and staff. “Now the fun begins, but there is going to be a lot of hard work. You are the class that will resurrect football on the Stetson campus. You are the first football players on this campus in more than 50 years. You are the future of this program. There is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.”
Dr. Libby told the group of the early days of Stetson football, including the first intercollegiate game in the state of Florida, a 6-0 victory over Florida Agricultural College. That school is known now as the University of Florida.
Dr. Libby also praised the group for their lead of faith in choosing to be a part of the Stetson football program.
“You brought your minds here to receive powerful knowledge that will help you in this 21st century world, and you brought your hearts here even though all we had to show you was a pile of dirt and a dream,” Dr. Libby said. “You came because you believed in what we were promising to do here at Stetson and to be a part of the start of a tradition. Today it is important for us to restart the football tradition here at Stetson.”
Being a part of something new and special was a theme throughout the dinner. Altier said he first began to think about bringing Stetson football back 18 years ago. He said it was not until Dr. Libby arrived at Stetson that the thought began to turn into a reality.
“Three years ago, when the first female president of the University came on board, she said ‘Yes, it really is possible.’” Altier said. “Dr. Libby, thank you for giving us a chance to bring football back to this university, to make something special happen.”
Hughes told the players and their parents that they have a chance to set the standard by which all future Hatters will be measured.
“I am talking to both parents and players when I say that we have a standard to set here that is unlike any other,” Hughes said. “You are going to carry yourself with pride on this campus and you are going to carry this campus to a new level that these undergrads and this faculty has never seen. We are going to expect more from you, but the goals and rewards are going to be awesome.”
The new Hatters will begin a full training camp schedule on Tuesday with a full day of meetings, physicals and equipment fitting. The day will close with the first practice session at the new Athletics Training Facility at 9 p.m., a session that will consist almost totally of conditioning.
The Hatters will continue with practices on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. before moving to 2 p.m. for practice sessions on Friday and Saturday.