Chapman’s football team’s season does not begin until Sept. 13, when the Panthers host Linfield.
But that doesn’t stop Chapman – which went 8-1 last season, falling just one game short of a SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) championship and a playoff berth – from preparing for its next season now.
“We know the potential our team has and what we are capable of, and for that reason no one wants to get cheated out of a successful season,” said junior linebacker and team captain Greg Johnson. “Our week one game against Linfield really has our team amped up and motivated.”
While the season doesn’t begin for another five months, practices and preparation for the fall happen year-round.
Offseason practices are very limited because of NCAA Division III rules, said Kevin Ashton, strength and fitness and defensive line coach.
“We get 15 practice days in the spring over a five-week period,” Ashton said. “We also can’t use pads and a lot of other equipment like sleds. On top of that, all workouts are voluntary. I’m in the weight room with our guys every day, and I also have running times during the week that are available to all athletes.”
Although there are a lot of limitations during the actual practices, Johnson, who led Chapman in tackles and was named to the All-SCIAC first team in 2013, knows how important spring practices are.
“We still block and hit and all that, but just at a safer tempo. Every guy is invested in the program and works hard for the team,” Johnson said.
As the strength and conditioning coach, Ashton knows the importance of the weight room during the offseason.
“Getting stronger is obviously a big focus in the offseason. It’s competition, especially in the weight room, it’s getting your body ready for the season that’s ahead,” Ashton said.
Because of the Division III limitations, Ashton holds a lot of voluntary workouts for student-athletes, namely football players, to help them get ready for their season.
“Everybody still puts in a lot of time. Everyone has to be their own motivator and push themselves. That’s how Division III differs from Division I and II. It’s like a job,” he said.
Chapman football is just one of many fall sports that is beginning preparation for the upcoming season. Though the football team concluded its allotted 15 practices before spring break, the men’s soccer team is currently holding spring practices.
While preparing for soccer season, spring practices are about refining skills and winning starting positions.
“Spring practice is a great time for players to impress the coach and show that you’ve been touching the ball, getting in shape and working out in the weeks leading into spring practices,” said sophomore midfielder Gino Belassen, who started in 12 games for the Panthers last season.
Belassen said he also stresses the importance of voluntary workouts and self-motivation in the spring.
“Coach leaves it up to us to get our stuff done, that way he can tell who’s 100 percent committed to getting better and making the team better,” Belassen said.