LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Fall camp begins Aug. 3 for the University of Louisville football program with the season opener against Notre Dame 30 days after that. But much of the real work to help turn around last year's implosion is being done in the summer months.
The team is currently in the second summer session. On the surface, it's five days a week of lifting and running and stretching. But it's much more than just building strength and stamina. At its core, it's building trust and relationships. It's re-building a culture that had been broken.
"I think, in any situation, coming off a 2-10 year, you're going to be down," first-year Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Sirignano said. "You've probably lost belief, lost confidence. Obviously, going through a coaching change, there's a big unknown. So they don't know what's going to happen. But from the time we started to now, they've been totally different individuals with a different attitude. Their effort, their culture flipped 180 degrees. It's awesome to see, and I'm very proud of the guys."
Sirignano, who came with new head coach Scott Satterfield from Appalachian State, leads a group of coaches that have become more and more important in recent years. With NCAA rules limiting the amount of time head coaches and position coaches can interact with players, it is the strength coaches who are instrumental in forming that culture change, especially in the summer.
"We're the guys that are around the kids the most, so your relationships blossom a lot quicker," Sirignano said.
"Being in our situation, the best you can ask for is a fresh start," junior linebacker Dorian Etheridge said. "So we're ready. We're eager. We're excited. These workouts, everything matters. After this, it's camp, and after camp, it's our first game. It's go-time."
Offensive lineman T.J. McCoy has only been here a few weeks. He's a graduate transfer from the University of Florida.
"I was kind of in a similar situation," McCoy said. "We went 4-8 the season before and turned it around and went 10-3. So I'm hoping to come over here and change the culture and have a better season. The thing I like about this program is that they don't care who you are. They expect nothing but excellence out of you, and they're going to push you hard every day no matter how you're feeling."
"The kids are going to figure it out," Sirignano said. "They needed pats on the backs. They needed confidence. They needed people to trust in them and vice versa. You know, we'll see what happens. Sept. 2, we start this journey against other teams. It should be fun."
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