Bluefield College ushered in a new era of sports last year adding a football team that just so happened to have a former Ashe County Husky aboard the squad.
This season, the Rams officially move from playing nothing but exhibition games into playing a real schedule in the Mid-South Conference.
For former Husky, Zach Hudler, he is ready for this season to begin.
Hudler was an all-conference performer for the Huskies under former head coach Bill Strong.
At Bluefield, Hudler is entering his junior season of competition and is most looking forward to getting that first official win in team history.
Even though the program is extremely young, the Rams will be bringing in an entirely new coaching staff for the upcoming year. Ordell Walker was named head coach on May 31, after leaving Greenville College in Illinois where he was on the coaching staff for 10 years and served as head coach for three of those seasons.
Hudler is a starting defensive tackle for the Ram defense, a position that the coaches make the players work extremely hard on.
“The defensive line players are out there 30 minutes before practice starts and we’re still out there 30 to 45 minutes after practice ends,” said Hudler. “We work on hand drills and agility bags before practice, then practice really starts.”
Hudler said they work on a lot of one-on-one drills and other drills to maintain position and shoot in low on opposing offensive linemen.
“I really like how our new defensive line coach does things,” added Hudler. “He changed our stances completely and made us work on firing out. We get low enough to where we can push a truck.”
Admittedly, Hudler said it took a while for him and the other d-linemen to catch on considering how much time they had worked with the previous coaching staff.
“We got into the routine of doing other stuff, now the new coaches want us to do things completely different,” said Hudler. “But by the end of spring practice, we were all clicking.”
Hudler and the rest of his teammates had a vigorous off-season workout program that started Jan. 4 and lasted through April 28.
“For four months, we were out there every day at 5 a.m. running through rain, snow, it didn’t matter,” said Hudler.
Once the season starts, practices will be a bit lighter for the players, getting them ready and keeping them fresh for the upcoming games on Saturday.
Monday practices will be “walk throughs” which mean the players are wearing basic practice clothes and helmets. Tuesdays are “shell” practices where the players wear helmets and shoulder pads. The team has a four-hour, full-pad hard practice on Wednesday nights before wrapping up with week with another shell practice on Thursday and a final walk-through on Friday.
“After the season begins, practices are a breeze,” said Hudler. “But in the off-season, that’s where they really make us work. We have morning and evening weight lifts after the 5 a.m. runs.”
The 2013 season begins with a non-conference game against Emory & Henry on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.
Bluefield will play five games at home and face seven opponents on the road.
Hudler is majoring in Information Technology and really hopes to land a job after graduation where he can work outdoors.