April 14, 2012
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
GLENDALE, Colo. - With over 43,000 alumni living in the Denver area, Athletic Director Jack Graham and Head Coach Jim McElwain have made it a point of emphasis to connect with that proud group of Rams.
Friday night the CSU football team held the inaugural practice at Infinite Park, which drew an estimated 1,000 fans. By the conclusion of practice, McElwain was sold that a new tradition had been born.
"You know what? This is great," said McElwain. "I really think that this is something that should become a tradition. The fact that we have over 43,000 alums right here in Denver and an opportunity to come out on a great night, the guys kind of enjoyed it and under the lights had kind of a little spark."
Graham echoed that statement when he talked during the practice, reiterating that this should be a new CSU tradition. As far as the practice itself, McElwain said he liked what he saw, even though he wasn't sure how the team would respond.
"At first I was kind of nervous on the bus, the guys kind of napped," McElwain joked. "In fact, I was one of them. It was a peaceful hour and a half trip. Once we got out here and kind of bounced around a bit, I think the guys got some energy and I think this was outstanding and a good practice. There were too many drops and we were horrible coming out, there are certain things that are going to happen but those are all teachable moments and that's what we are trying to get at."
The first-year coach is starting to gain a little more respect for his players as well, especially how they have handled adversity.
"The team has done a great job of focusing on what they can do to help us all get better," said McElwain. "I think anytime that you have adversity it is really a great test of character for your team as well. I think these guys have responded well."
The team will have its second scrimmage of spring ball on Sunday at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, which is open to fans. McElwain joked after practice that he is getting used to the unpredictable Colorado weather and will tailor his outfit accordingly.
"I will put more clothes on," McElwain said. "Last time I checked when I lived in Montana, that might happen so we have to be able to play in it (the cold weather)."
Other post-practice quotes from McElwain:
On the team in a traveling atmosphere:
"There was good focus in the meetings and then loading the bus, we hit it right on time. They know that if they are not about five minutes ahead of schedule, there is a good chance the bus if leaving without them anyway."
On making the trip an annual event:
"Absolutely. I think it is outstanding. I think that this is a great venue and we can work practice around what we need to do to get what we need to get done, especially around this time in spring ball. Right now you are working a little more team situations and not quite as much individual group work."
On the team:
"That is the excitement about building a program, building a program with some great young men. These guys here are guys that I am really proud of and do what is right and understand what it takes to be a champion on a daily basis."
On heading into the scrimmage:
"This will be great. We will get a good film session in tomorrow morning and will be able to get ready to go for Sunday. We are shooting for around noon on Sunday and from what I understand, we will probably have snow and one of those wind things where you can't stand up and it will be great. It is spring in the front range right?"
On Weston Richburg's injury:
"Yeah, I think there was a little nerve there. I thought it was a knee they way he bent over there but it is an ankle. We will find out how bad - it could be one of those things where it was a high ankle sprain and he might be done for the spring but that is why we had all these big guys walk on. It is outstanding. If they can, we will figure it out."
On the wisdom he has shared with the team:
"First of all, the biggest thing is learning to do what is right on a daily basis and to invest in your own personal business, and to make sure whatever you do in every phase of life, that you're doing everything that you can to make your business grow and be a champion on a daily basis. These guys that are here are doing that and I am proud of them."
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