Wildcats off and away to camp
Team focused on becoming a family
Even though they waited patently, a fan did not have to be very observant to feel the excitement in the air on Monday at nearly 90 gridiron players from Cassville embarked on their annual pilgrimage to William Jewell for summer camp.
According to Lance Parnell, Cassville football coach, the Wildcats' annual trip to Liberty is an experience unlike any other.
The players left Monday and are scheduled to return on Thursday. At camp, the Wildcat players spend four days on the campus of William Jewell College, and it is nothing but team building and football drills.
"The camp gives us a chance to get away from town and focus on becoming a team," Parnell said. "Players and coaches are given a chance to interact in ways that they otherwise do not get in a regular practice. Staying in the dorms and eating together help to make the camp more like a retreat."
While the primary focus is football, Parnell believes that the camp is necessary for his team's cohesion.
"We give them a lot of down time," Parnell said. "The coaches and I get an opportunity to interact with the players on a personal level. We'll sit down and play Xbox or just talk about life. I think this camp does more to bring us together as a team than anything else we could do."
For the players, the camp serves as a reward for their hard work.
"We get a great chance to know each other and just have fun," said Troy Rose, Cassville receiver and cornerback. "It's something that I have looked forward to all year. We practice, but it is more about learning to become a family and care about the guy you are with."
The Wildcats began lifting weights after the 2015-2016 school year ended and averaged 70-80 players at their sessions.
"I'm pleased with that turnout," Parnell said. "Early summer is a difficult time to get everyone together, and I felt our players did a good job getting in the weight room to lift."
Parnell said he had some players on mission trips, some at Boys State and some at FFA camp, which hampered the ability to get 100 percent participation in the weight room.
"I think a school our size should always have around 90 players on the football team," Parnell said. "We have 90 players this year who are working their tail ends off to represent this team and community."
Upon returning from William Jewell, there is a mandatory dead period before the fall practice season begins on Aug. 1.
As far as how the team will fare this season, Parnell declined comment. However, Rose did not shy away from a prediction.
"I want us to win a district championship and finish over .500," Rose said. "We have a good group of players and I want to go out and play for them."
Cassville opens the season on Aug. 19 at Lamar. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.