This fall, a 125 year tradition comes to an end here on the UNCG campus with the inaugural season of the Spartans club football team. Led by Head Coach Michael Vadini, the Spartan football team has made significant strides since its inception last spring, including a double overtime win against Longwood University last semester.
Despite the short amount of time in existence, the spectrum of experience for the Spartans ranges from players who recently transferred from a Division II or III football programs, students who last played in high school and want to rekindle their desire to play competitively, to participants who are getting their first taste of organized football.
When asked about coaching a diverse group of players, Vadini said “You’d find it surprising how awesome it is to do it. We have around 42 guys coming out for the team, so with the numbers and the quality of the players, it’s a privilege to coach these guys.”
For those who have played in high school however, the thought of putting on pads again in college is nothing short of amazing. Lineman AJ Curington explains “It feels wonderful. Leaving high school and coming to UNCG, I never thought I would have the chance to do it again. But myself and a couple of like minded individuals came through and decided to put something together, so here we are.”
Last week saw the first practices for the club football team. Quarterback Brandon Travis details the differences between practices from high school to today.
“In high school, your practice structure with weight lifting, film and conditioning were already set in stone and you had to do it no matter what. At the club level however, you don’t know how seriously participants are going to take the suggested regimen that’s given to each player.”
“Fortunately, our students are very involved in the process, so we carve out our own time to go to the weight room and watch film. Collegiate club football, like collegiate academics, is more of an onus of self discipline.”
Running Back Trevon Moore expanded on that, saying “In high school, it’s more developmental. But in college, you come here with your skill set already, it’s just a matter of honing your skills, bringing them out on Saturdays and executing [them].”
In regards to goals both as a player and as a team, Linebacker Blaine Ayers is embracing the progress with his team and takes it in day by day.
“As a player, I hope to compete, earn a starting job and to be a team player. As a team, we hope to just go out there and win games, we take the season game by game and just hope to see how far we go.”
Curington, who also serves as the recruitment chair for the club, has goals that transcend his team and affects the campus. He proclaims, “The number one goal is to go undefeated and run the table to win the [NCAF] national championship and bring it back to Greensboro, where it rightfully belongs.”
“For the program as a whole, just to become a NCAA team is all we really want out of this. We want to see tailgating on Saturday mornings and a stadium filled with fans on gameday Saturday afternoon. That’s all we ever wanted from this school.”
QB Travis hammers home what the Spartans should expect in their opening season and for the future.
“I really want this team to become a staple in the UNCG community. We don’t have a football team, and there are a lot of people on campus that are passionate about this sport. That and I haven’t really received a viable response on why we don’t have a program here, and I really want to bring a sense of passion within the community about this sport while at the same time bringing them together.”
Coach Vadini added to that sentiment by saying, “I’m hoping that we get as much student body participation in our games, and what they should expect is seeing a lot of team spirit, a lot of people giving their hearts representing our school and seeing a fun couple of hours of football, just like you would see on any other campus.”
When asked if the team can maintain the mantra of being “Undefeated Since 1891,” Coach V made it clear that losing was never a thought.
“Absolutely, without question. At the end of this season all the way through, I have full expectation that we will be undefeated, and you can put that in print.”