Spring Camp is underway

Spring Camp kicked off on Sunday with two practices. The Gryphons follow that up with 2-hour practices at 5 pm each day from Monday to Thursday. Spring Camp concludes with a combined practice & scrimmage with the Lions at York U on Friday.

I had a chance to talk to several Gryphon coaches on the eve of Spring Camp at Saturday’s Gryphon Football Coaching Clinic. They gave me the impression that it is pretty much a business as usual situation.

Coach MacNeill talking with alumni Photo: Lou Toppan

Coach MacNeill talking with alumni
Photo: Lou Toppan

That was also one of the main takeaways from my conversation the new head coach, Kevin MacNeill. With a veteran coaching staff that largely stayed together, the changes that MacNeill wanted to install were more cultural. Things like discipline and accountability. MacNeill felt like he was able to accomplish those goals in the team’s series of 2-day Winter Camps. They were quickly accepted and embraced by the players and are now part of the fabric of the program.

“To be honest, because it’s been such a smooth transition with our staff staying intact, it hasn’t really been that different,” MacNeill said. “The transition’s gone fantastic. The kids have all bought in. The change has been really seamless and there haven’t been any hiccups with it. It’s been nice and it’s been really fun.”

With the effects of the coaching change being minimal and quickly absorbed, Spring training camp will focus on the usual priorities – developing skills, teaching and repping systems and evaluating players.

In Spring you are dealing with smaller numbers of players, perhaps 60-70, instead of 100 at training camp, so there is a better opportunity for learning and evaluating. With no games immediately on the horizon scout team players are on an equal footing with dress roster players.

In case you haven’t already seen them on social media, there are some video clips from Spring Camp below, plus here and here.

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I won’t be in Guelph to watch a practice until Thursday. I plan to head to York U for the scrimmage as well. You can find a Rob Massey story on Spring Camp, with more from Kevin MacNeill, on the Gryphon Football Team App – Gryphons Spring Camp in Full Swing. Some more highlights …

“There’s a lot of evaluation going on right now,” head coach Kevin MacNeill said. “We’re trying to give guys that were on the scout team last year an opportunity to compete for a starting job. It’s really a nice competing period and it’s a way for us to teach those guys, get them acclimated with the systems and open up the package a little bit to get the people all on the same page.”

And, on the combined practice and scrimmage at York …

The Gryphs are to film the scrimmage with York and they’ll view it numerous times during the next three months to prepare for training camp as the scrimmage will give the players a chance to show everything they learned this week.

“It’s just live reps, live reps against another coloured jersey and that’s an opportunity for guys to take what we’ve done and with a little more pressure, a tougher situation, a good opponent and be able to showcase what they can do,” MacNeill said. “It’ll give us some good film to go into the summertime to make our evaluations.”

And it’ll give the players a chance to play against an opponent rather than a teammate at practice.

I like that Coach MacNeill has lined up the combined practice/scrimmage with York. It’s a nice way to finish up Spring camp and it will give them lots of film to evaluate. I don’t think there is any doubt that York is a much improved team over the Lions squad that we scrimmaged with in the Spring of 2014. They seem to be a team that is finally headed on the road to respectability.

A week ago I began working on a post looking at what I thought were the major questions of Spring Camp. I hope to have that ready within the next 24 hours.


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