HANCOCK - Traditionally, the term 'training camp' has evolved away from its roots. There's training, sure, but camp has been more of a figure of speech lately.
Not in Hancock.
The Bulldogs and hundreds of other high school teams in the state began practice for the 2012 season Monday, but most of the other teams went home at the end of the day. Hancock has taken its football experience 24/7, as evidenced by the mattresses and cots laid out across the gym floor.
Hancock football players work on the running game during their first practice of the 2012 season Monday morning at Hancock High School. The Bulldogs, under the direction of new head coach Matt Walter, are staging a three-day training camp this week. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"We're gonna stay together, we're gonna eat together and we're gonna practice together," new Hancock head coach Matt Walter said.
The team will stay at the school until Wednesday.
Don't assume this was the idea of a new coach attempting to instill a draconian order. In fact, senior running back Ross Michaels said the idea had been floated as early as the first road trip of the previous season.
"I thought it was a great idea at that time. I'm looking forward to it. It should be fun to get the team together and build some team spirit," he said.
The Hancock program features athletes from four school districts (Hancock, Jeffers, Dollar Bay and Chassell). Almost every team has newcomers from different towns or junior varsity - and don't forget, Walter is installing a new simplified offense and defense.
"These kids can focus on football the first three days, and we're gonna get a lot in, too," Walter said. "That's the biggest part of these first three days, getting the offense and defense in, and so far it's been pretty good."
Walter is not the only new coach taking over a Copper Country program - Karl Borree logged his first official day at the helm of Hancock's cross-canal rivals, Houghton, Monday.
They and the rest of the Copper Country have one more date circled on the calendar: the regular season opener. Hancock's is Aug. 24 at home against the Gogebic Miners (formerly Bessemer-Wakefield-Marinesco). But until that kickoff, the game will exist only what dreams can be mustered on the gym floor.
"I think with the new coach, all his new plans, they all sound like good ideas. We've got some good guys, guys with experience, guys with talent, so hopefully we'll have a good season," senior Shane Raasio said.