It’s a low bar for the Champlain Valley Union football team, which finished the 2018 season with just a single win under its belt, but this appears to be a much different squad.
“We’re more of a family,” sophomore linebacker Ryan Canty said. “We’ve been working hard all summer to get to the point we’re at.”
The summer can be a grind, but senior lineman Zach Gamelin said the team is always eager to get to work.
“We come here at 7:30 in the morning. Last year when we were up, people were just like, ‘I don’t want to do this, we don’t want to be here, let’s sleep in,’ but now everyone is like, ‘let’s get going, lets keep doing this.'” Gamelin recounted. “We’ve got this. That’s been our motto this offseason.”
A huge factor for the attitude change is due to the introduction of Rahn Fleming as head coach for the 2019 season. The players all agree on what he brings to this year’s Redhawks team.
“Enthusiasm,” junior running back/linebacker Isaiah Gillis said. “If you ever get the chance to watch, he’ll join in on hitting drills, no pads.”
Fleming, who played football for Dartmouth, wants his team to focus on having fun, but also prepare hard enough to win games while doing so. The coach stressed the philosophy of “honoring the minutes,” as explained below:
“If we go through a practice and we haven’t laughed together, we missed something,” Fleming said. “We’re going to show these guys that laughter is part of the deal; so is grunting, so is sweating, so is grinding. All those things are true, and in the course of it we’re going to give them every rep we possibly can.”
“Coach Rahn,” as he’s known to his players, also brought in a coaching staff partly comprised of former Mount Mansfield Union coaches, and the staff follows the same principles.
The squad gets to open the season on its home field come time for the season. CVU hosts 2018 Divison I runner-up Rutland on Saturday, August 31 at 1 p.m.