UWO helps new Titans in the transition to college football

Alonzo Fuller

The UW Oshkosh football team geared up for the 2015 season as they held their second Commit Player Orientation April 19th. Head coach Pat Cerroni and director of football operations Jesse Smith held this event to help commits ease into the transition from high school to college. “We started this idea last March,” Smith said. “We just wanted a way to bring all the players so they can have a more unique Titan experience. We also wanted to get their parents involved as well.” Smith said he wanted incoming freshmen to get more comfortable with the current football players and also with other departments. “We also wanted to get the other departments here so the players can get on board early,” Smith said. “We wanted them to understand the balance between athletics and academics.” Smith said that the first orientation was a successful one, with parents thanking him and saying they felt more comfortable sending their kids to school at UWO. There were around 35 commits who attended this orientation, and they got a taste of what UWO has to offer before their Odyssey orientations later in the summer. The day started off at the Russ Young Building at Titan Stadium with a short introduction by Smith. Then, the players transitioned to the football field to watch the current football players spring practice. “[The current players] were able to help us and create a more personal experience for the commits,” Smith said. “They get a one-on-one with the position coach and also the current players. They want to help take the guys under their wing.” Quarterback Brett Kasper and linebacker Reese Dziedzic talked to the players about the team chemistry and the bond they have. They said they prepared for the grayshirt process, which commits don’t play until their next season so they can have four full years of eligibility. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in my first summer camp,” Kasper said. “But my roommate and I built a good relationship and since my roommate was going to grayshirt, I was thinking I might as well do the same.” Dziedzic said the plan was to always to play football together with his high school friend and current roommate. “I basically knew I was doing it from day one whenI committed here,” Dziedzic said. “My roommate and I went to the same high school, and we were playing the same position. We said we were going to do it together and make a big impact.” The day continued with director of financial aid Kim Donat talking about different ways to pay for college, including work study, loans and scholarships. Residence Life followed when director Tom Fojtik and assistant director Michelle Sponholz talked about living options and costs. Assistant Director for Dining Operations Marty Strand talked about dining options, which included basic and deluxe meal plans. Strength and conditioning coordinator Steve Brown continued to explain the lifting schedule for new commits, the process of lifting throughout the season and off-season. He also talked about how to develop as an athlete and the expectations that are held. Head athletic trainer Wade Peitersen transitioned to the services of athletic training that are available as well as insurance information to get the commits started. Admissions director Jill Endries talked about the admissions process. Cerroni finished the day off with an overview of the 2015 season, which includes summer camps, practices and training prior to the start of the season. “Overall, I thought it was a pretty successful day,” Smith said. “We were able to get the freshmen commits and the parents comfortable with sending their kids off to school here. A lot of great information was provided. That’s what our program is built around.” Since Cerroni broke down the grayshirt process, he said he hopes the athlete can commit to the program. “What I’m telling them is that we’re going to invest our time into your son,” Cerroni said. “Nothing can happen unless your son can commit to the program. So we’re giving them the opportunity to decide if this is what they want to do.” He said the playing style of the football team doesn’t work for every athlete, but he believed it worked for those 35 commits. He also said the recruiting class has a lot of talent and is pretty pleased with his football team. “We have a lot of young players that stepped up last season,” Smith said. “They will be in an increased role in the 2015 season, and this will show that the process here at Oshkosh for our football program works.” Kasper and Dziedzic also think that next season will be special. “From our spring practices and this recruiting class as well, I’m feeling pretty good about the upcoming season,” Kasper said. Dziedzic said he hopes the hard work the team has put in this spring will transition to the upcoming fall season. “We have so much young talent and our guys stepped up during spring football,” Dziedzic said. “I’ve never been so excited and we have a chance to do something really special next season.”