It's been a long summer for the Columbia Football enthusiast, but the wait is over. This Monday the Lions opened up the 2010 season with conditioning testing and the first day of practice. Four days later, Columbia Football is in full swing. Full pads Friday. Two-a-days Saturday. The Lions are ready.
Two of the captains are more than thrilled with the team's showing so far.
Senior captain and wide receiver Mike Stephens came into camp 15 pounds heavier at 205 pounds. He attributes the muscle gain to an intense three months of Columbia Football's Strength and Conditioning summer program. He says he's never felt better and the team looks strong.
Q: Mike, tell us how you think camp is going so far.
A: I think camp has started off really well - everyone came in ready to go, starting with a good showing in the conditioning test. I think we have carried some of that momentum over into practice.
These first few days have been about getting back into the groove with our teammates and shaking off any of the rust that we were carrying in from the summer. We're still trying to work out the kinks, but at times I have been really impressed with the way both the offense and defense have been playing so early in camp. I think our scrimmage coming up on Sept. 4 will really give use a chance to get a good look at how well we are progressing as a team in the first week, but so far I think we are having a productive camp.
Just four games into the 2009 season, the Lions were dealt a huge defensive blow when Alex Gross went down with a knee injury during the first play of the game at Lafayette. Never fear Columbia fans! Gross is back, and the way he tells it, better than ever.
Q: Alex, what is it like to be back on the field? How are you feeling?
A: I feel fine. I don't think I lost a step by any means. Camp is the most fun that it has ever been for me, and I think that is partly because of the camaraderie this team has built working hard over the summer. It is just exciting for me to be playing football again. I had to watch quite a while. It obviously hurts to watch from the sideline and not be able to play, but it helped me in some ways. I definitely saw things from a different perspective. I used my playing experience to help my defensive teammates while the offense was on the field. I grew from my experience, but I was more than ready to get back out there.
Q: How do you think camp is going so far?
A: As a team I think we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we have been in the past at this point. That is definitely a testament to the work everyone put in this off-season - we were together in the weight room and in the gym. That camaraderie is carrying over to the field. People are really playing for each other. It's been great.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the next couple of days?
A: Pads are on [Friday], which is always good. Two practices [Saturday] - which is twice the fun and everyone is looking forward to that I'm sure. Scrimmages are great because nothing is scripted and the intensity kicks up another notch. Coaches are calling plays on the spot and not just going by a list. The players get a real sense for how coaches will call the game. It's a fun time.
The blogs are back!
Preseason blogs will commence this Saturday with the Lions' first night practice of 2010.
Blogs are scheduled for the following days:
Saturday, August 28 at 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, August 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 2 at 3 p.m.
Check back to GoColumbiaLions.com to follow the live chat!
Have you gotten your season tickets!?!?
Six home games at Robert K. Kraft Field this season and the Lions are ready. Are you? Get your season tickets HERE.