Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Football will soon retake center stage at Carson Park. UW-Eau Claire will play four of its ten games at that venue - the home opener is September 9th against Wisconsin Lutheran.
The Blugolds had their first team meeting Saturday, and their first practice, Sunday. They're back on the field today, focusing on team conditioning. Eau Claire will have plenty of new faces this season - the Blugolds return 67 from last year's roster and bring in 55 new recruits. Head Coach Dan Larson has high hopes for this group.
"We've got some local kids, so we recruited kind of within an hour of our campus which we feel is extremely important to do," Larson explains, "It's nice to see those kids come back and stay in this area and play for us. So far we've liked the attention to detail they've shown, the willingness they have to learn and correct things that they make mistakes on and they certainly look like Day 2 players, but at the same point in time you can see they're going to have a bright future, too."
One of the things that has stood out to the coaching staff in the early goings is team chemistry, and they credit the positive atmosphere to a number of seniors who stayed on campus and trained together over the summer.
"When your upper classmen can kind of give that feeling, that family feeling to those incoming guys walking in the door because that's an expectation that you have as a football program, I think that allows your team to come together a lot quicker," says Larson, "I've kind of noticed that here so far, is we seem to be talking, we seem to be interacting, guys seem to interacting, guys seem to know the other person that they're sitting across from, it doesn't matter the position. I think all of that comes from our guys staying up through the summer and starting to build a little bit more of that culture and that family aspect that we most certainly want to have with our program."
The Blugolds were picked to finish last in the WIAC this season, but Larson isn't too concerned about that ranking.
"That certainly isn't motivation for us, the motivation part is just simply getting better. We're coming off of 4 years where we've had losing seasons in our program, and we certainly don't feel like that's the limitations that our program should have," Larson says, "We're still trying to build the culture that we want to have for the longevity aspect of our football program and is this the culture that we want. That's where we're working is trying to get to that next level in comparison to where it was last year."
The Blugolds will host their Media Day next Monday.