Wednesday, August 15, 2018 || By William Boone & Jaliyah Arnold || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A football game between Proviso East and Proviso West several years ago. | District 209 file
Great attitude and max effort describes the upcoming season for the Proviso West football program. West players have been working hard during their six-week summer camp, keeping the football mantra in mind as they hit the gridiron.
“The team is big on control the controllable. We can always bring great attitude and max effort. These are things people can control each time they step on the football field,” said Head Coach Nelson Rodriguez.
The goal for this coming year is to have 50 to 60 players on the varsity team and 40 to 50 players on both the sophomore and freshman teams.
At camp, the players worked hard on getting into football shape and knowing the basics of offense and defense.
Even though the team had two wins last year, some of the losses were close.
“We have the ability to compete and get over the hump. It’s going to come down to hard work over the summer and building on success from last year,” he said.
The coach said that the team has a lot of outstanding players.
“We win and lose games as a team,” he said.
Two key returning players are senior running back Brandon Gwin-Smith and offensive lineman Kenneth Thornton. The team also has a strong group of incoming juniors.
Rodriguez said that he’s always looking for new players.
“We are looking for players who are willing to put in max effort and have a great attitude,” he said. “People who are willing to do that will find a spot on the team.”
The Pirates’ unconventional preparation
Proviso East High School football players have decided to toss in their cleats for a day or two to appreciate the finer things in life.
East football players recently visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. And the team is planning a trip to a museum in the Ukrainian Village later this month. These cultural excursions are part of a non-traditional team bonding experience.
Camaraderie is essential in football, according to Lead Assistant Coach Ricky McCoy. The players need to be “one and one with each other. If you don’t trust your brother, you are going to get hurt in football. We are trying to get the players in different situations,” said McCoy.
The entire team is also hoping to take part in a canoe trip down the Des Plaines River, called “Pirates on the River.” As of last month, approval was still needed for the excursion. The canoe trip would start in Maywood and head all the way down to Lisle. The purpose of the trip is to have a “one on one” with teammates, coaches said.
Leading the Pirates this year is Varsity Head Coach Oliver Speller, who won a high school state championship in Alabama.
The coaches added a couple of components to camp this year including new study habits and conditioning.
“We are going to have a legitimate football team that is going to compete in this conference. We need better grades and better conditioning,” said McCoy.
Because most players are still working over the summer, the coaches are hoping to see more players at the beginning of the first practice. McCoy is hoping for 75 varsity players and total of about 300 players for the entire football program. By the time the season starts, he hopes to have 16 coaches.
This year at camp, the players are focusing on conditioning, strength, studying, having fun, being, competitive, and team bonding, said McCoy.
“If they take care of those things, the wins will come,” he said. VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page