Mike Gardner has led his first practice in his second stint as Tabor College head football coach.
Tabor held the first of 10 spring practices Wednesday. The practices can be spread out over the spring semester.
?What we want to do is get the basic parts of the system in,? Gardner said. ?We?re spending more time on that than some of the other stuff we?ll be able to do in the fall.?
The spring practices give the coaching staff an opportunity to introduce things before August.
?I like the fact we?re at least allowed to do this and to work on these things,? said Gardner. ?It?s really going to help going into next fall. We?re not going to be going into everything completely blind.?
With all the players gone from when Gardner left Tabor in 2005, he has begun looking for leaders in the players that will return to the gridiron for the Bluejays.
?That process has been in place since I showed up here in January,? said Gardner. ?It?s starting to take shape. Leadership comes in so many different ways.?
Gardner added, ?Some guys are nothing more than players that just make plays. They call those guys leaders and in some ways they are. Other guys lead by not necessarily what they do on the field, but by their character and the things they bring to the program, the team.
?You obviously have those guys that are action leaders and verbal leaders that are both?can make plays and know how to talk to guys in the right way and know what to say and when to say it.?
After one practic.e Gardner said its ?premature? to know the level of talent Tabor has, but he likes how players have started to buy into the system.
?I like how the process has begun,? he said. ?I think that guys are definitely on the right page in terms of doing what we?ve asked them to do, and that?s part of the process. Do I think there?s talent there? Absolutely. Do I know how much? No.?
Gardner said the players who absorb what the coaches are teaching and commit themselves to the program will have the most success on the field.
?I like this team and I like the guys that have committed and those are the guys we?re focused on,? he said. ?The guys that have decided to stay and want to try to have a positive experience and try to see some of the things we?re talking about this off-season happen in the fall.?
Tabor will continue spring practices this week.
The Bluejays season will start Sept. 11 against Kansas Wesleyan in Hillsboro.