Pirate Football Takes the Field for Spring Ball
Jacob Hubbard, 3/8/16
Pirates kick off spring ball with a new set of goals, coaches and players for the 2016 season.
On Monday afternoon, the Whitworth Pirate football team gathered to kick off the start of the 2016 spring season. Coming off the 2015 season with an overall record of 9–2 (9–1 regular season), there are high hopes for this fall. Pirate football will have a few more cleats to fill this year as players graduate and coaching positions open up. Head coach Rod Sandberg said that he is “pleased” with where the team is currently, and excited to see where it will go over the course of spring ball. Spring ball is very unlike regular season because “you’re just trying to learn, there is no opponent or deadline you are trying to prepare for,” said Sandberg.
New Faces to the Team
There will be three new faces to the coaching staff. Mitch Warren will be both Director of Strength and Conditioning as well as Defensive Back Coach. Sandberg said that filling the position of Director of Strength and Conditioning was crucial because of the impact it has on the team during the off season.
Eric Kelly, a Whitworth alum, has returned to the Pine Bowl to be an assistant Offensive Line coach. After his career at Whitworth, Kelly played in the NFL for multiple teams including the Detroit Lions. Another alum, Juju Predisik, has taken to the position of Offensive Assistant coach. Both “bring a lot of experience and gray hair to our young coaching staff,” said Sandberg.
Among the incoming freshman, there are 4 transfer students who have joined the team for spring ball. The positions include 2 receivers, a linebacker, and a quarterback.
Where They Stand
“Are we where we need to be? No. Are we making improvements? Yes,” said Sandberg. Without the incoming freshman, ineligible players and players who are involved in another sport the team can “run thin,” however Sandberg sees this as an opportunity for players to get a lot of reps and improve.
“Spring is really more important for those guys that are for the first time trying to become starters than for the returning starters,” he said. With multiple positions to be filled and battled for this spring, the work from the off season is being seen. Sandberg seems confident in filling the positions of graduated players and excited about returning star players. “We have 10 receivers that are better than anybody else’s 10 in the country,” said Sandberg. This with the return of the dynamic duo of Ian Kolste and Duke Degaetano the offense looks to be a power house to be reckoned with.
The seniors made four goals; team GPA of 3.1, 100 percent accountability in academics and athletics, getting involved in community service and having each position group meet with other positions. “These seniors see the big picture and know it’s not just about them and want to impact the community and campus,” said Sandberg, something that is very visible in their set goals.
The Pirates are putting in the grind to face a tough 2016 schedule.