Photo by Matthew Claybrook
The Trinity football team ended the 2018 season with a win against the No. 8 team in the country and a 7–3 record. This season, they hope to do even better.
Over the summer, the athletic department renovated the field in Trinity Stadium, converting the traditional grass surface of the football field into FieldTurf, a popular artificial sports field material.
Assistant head coach of the football team Paul Michalak, who also serves as the defensive coordinator for Trinity’s linebackers, believes that the change will be a positive influence on the team’s performance.
“I think having a consistent playing surface is a benefit for the student-athletes. It will also benefit the university in the recruitment of students,” Michalak said.
Senior defensive back Nic Hover agrees, saying that the team has already been practicing on the new surface to prepare for the upcoming fall season.
“The new turf will allow us to play a lot faster and sharper on game day. For now, practices take place on the game field, which has been a great way to get a feel for the new turf,” Hover said.
Prior to the installation of the FieldTurf in the main stadium, the football team primarily held practices on the campus Intramural Field, previously the only FieldTurf fied. Junior wide receiver Chris Stewart is pleased with the new surface and believes that it has improved the team’s practices.
“It’s great that all of our practices now take place on the new FieldTurf. The new turf field is bigger than the Intramural Field, so it allows our team to go harder in practice. We are able to really push the tempo because we have so much more space on the new field,” Stewart said.
Last season, both Stewart and Hover received nominations for the 2018 All-SAA (Southern Athletic Association) accolades after strong performances in the regular season. Hover was named All-SAA First Team Defense, while Stewart was named All-SAA Second Team Offense.
Hover, who is in his last season of NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) eligibility, expressed that he has high hopes for his final season of Trinity football.
“Every practice, we have taken strides towards becoming the great team that we know we can be. We have a lot of tough opponents on our schedule this season, so each game is equally important in our minds. We have to prepare for every opponent with our highest intensity and focus,” Hover said.
Stewart is hoping that his junior season will allow him to serve as a positive influence for his team both on and off the field.
“This year, I am looking to be more of a leader on this team. I think in my first two years, I have proven what kind of person I am and how I can contribute to the team on the field. I want to do more off the field. I want to be someone that guys can look up to in the meeting rooms and in the weight room, and I also want to continue to make plays on the field and contribute to the team the best way I can,” Stewart said.
The team will open their schedule with a scrimmage against Texas Lutheran University on Aug. 29 in the Trinity Stadium. This date will mark the team’s first competitive use of the new FieldTurf.
“To prepare for this game, the biggest thing for us at this point is just focusing on what we do and knowing how we fit in each call. We try to understand situational football, and we continue to grow our football IQ,” Michalak said.
Following this scrimmage, which will not count on the team’s official record, the Tigers host McMurry University on Sept. 5 in their first official game of the year. Stewart believes that every game on their schedule is important, but the games against two particular ranked teams will be especially competitive.
“As a team, we preach that the most important game is the next game. We take our season one week at a time and give every opponent our full commitment, but if I was a fan looking at our schedule, I would say that the games against Berry and Centre will be the ones you don’t want to miss,” Stewart said.
Additionally, Hover notes that the team has a clear goal for the 2019 season, in which they will compete for the SAA title.
“The team has set very high goals for ourselves, and the main goal is to win the SAA. We have a team full of very talented players and coaches, and we are all really looking forward to competing this season,” Hover said.