For more than two years the countdown clock has clicked steadily downward. At more than 700 day, there was not much of a sense of urgency around the Stetson University campus for the return of Hatters football.
Today, with the 2013 Hatters reporting to campus for the start of training camp, that clock has wound down. Now there is a definite sense of urgency. At 7 p.m. today, that clock hits 29 days and there is no doubting the excitement in the air all across campus, the City of DeLand and all of Volusia County.
“There is a greater sense of urgency,” head coach Roger Hughes said as the Athletics Training Center on campus was buzzing with activity. “When you look at the clock and it says 756 days, you relax. Now, when you look down and it is less than 30, you know it is coming quickly.”
The ATC on the corner of Amelia and Minnesota Avenues will continue to be the hub of activity for the next 29 games. On Friday, as more than 100 players reported to campus, many for the first time, there was equipment to be issued, dorm rooms to be moved into and nervously excited family members to say goodbye to.
But the business of getting ready for the season-opener against Warner University, which will be played on August 31 at 7 p.m. at newly refurbished Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand, will have to wait a little longer. Before the team can practice, there is other business to attend to.
Tonight the Stetson coaches, with help from many of the Hatters’ players, will host a women’s clinic. On Saturday morning, check-in will continue for the few remaining players to arrive before physicals and meetings on academics and NCAA compliance.
The team will assemble on the field for the first time Saturday afternoon for picture day at 1:30. More meetings and physicals and meetings will follow. On Sunday morning the team will go through conditioning tests to see just how much work the players put in over the summer. After more meetings, weight room workouts and dinner, then, and only then, will the work of getting ready to play begin.
The first practice session is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sunday. At that moment, the countdown clock will read 27 days.
“We are all excited and ready to get started,” redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Tentler told a newspaper reporter on Friday morning. “It has been a long time since most of these guys have played in a game, and we are anxious to get going.”
The Hatters are scheduled to hold a total of 20 practice sessions over the 18 days before school starts on August 22. By that time the countdown clock will be at less than 10 days.
Most practices during training camp are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts, with two-a-day practices set for August 9, 12, 14 and 16. Practice times those days will be at 8:20 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Scrimmages are scheduled for Saturday, August 10, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, August 17, at 2 p.m.
The Hatters are also scheduled to scrimmage on Saturday, August 24, at 7 p.m. at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium following a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility.
Hughes said the early days of camp will be spent on learning the Stetson way for the new players and reinforcing the things the returning players learned last year.
“We want to get those new players up to speed as quickly as possible so that, if there are players in that group that can help us win games this year, they will have the opportunity to do it,” Hughes said. “The first five days of practice we are going to keep those first year guys out a little longer by themselves, just to give them a chance to learn. It is not necessarily about the physical, it is about the mental stuff.”
All Stetson football practices are open and free to the public. Season tickets for the return of Stetson football are still on-sale, but good seats are going fast. Visit www.gohatters.com/tix to order tickets or call 386-738-HATS to order by phone.
Fans can also follow the Hatters online via social media on the official Stetson Athletics Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/stetsonhatters ) and through the Stetson Football Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/stetsonfootball ). On Twitter, follow the Hatters @StetsonHatters @StetsonFootball and @JohnB_Stetson.
Fans should also remember to signup for Hat-Alerts, the official Stetson Athletics Text Messaging service at www.gohatters.com/text .
As the countdown clock continues to wind, also visit the Stetson Football A-to-Z Gameday Guide ( www.gohatters.com/gameday ) to get all the information you will need for making the 2013 Stetson football season successful.
Tick, Tick, Tick.
Stetson Football Training Camp Schedule
Saturday, August 3 – Picture Day, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 4 – Conditioning tests, 7:30 a.m./Practice, 7 p.m.
Monday, August 5 – Practice, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, August 6 – Practice, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, August 7 – Practice, 2 p.m.
Thursday, August 8 – Practice, 2 p.m.
Friday, August 9 – Practice, 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 10 – Scrimmage, 2 p.m.
Sunday, August 11 – Meetings only
Monday, August 12 – Practice, 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 13 – Practice, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, August 14 – Practice, 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 15 – Practice, 2 p.m.
Friday, August 16 – Practice, 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 17 – Scrimmage, 9 a.m.
Sunday, August 18 – Meetings only
Monday, August 19 – Practice, 8:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 20 – Practice, 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 21 – Practice, 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, August 22 – Practice, 7 a.m. (Fall Semester begins)
Friday, August 23 – Practice, 4 p.m.
Saturday, August 24 – Scrimmage, 7 p.m. (Spec Martin Memorial Stadium)