Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Blue Raiders are just a week away until their battle with the University of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. The team is eager for the opportunity to hangout in Honolulu, but realize that it is a first and foremost a business trip.
Balancing business with pleasure is no small task, especially with all of the distractions a game at this destination holds. However, after dropping last year’s bowl game on the island of the Bahamas to Western Michigan, head coach Rick Stockstill has a solution and its quite simple.
“When we are here, we are going to work. Nobody is going to work harder than us, whether it’s lifting weights, in meeting rooms or on the practice field,” said Stockstill. “I’m not monopolizing their whole day. We put in a few hours in the morning and we put in a few hours in the afternoon. They have some time off here in the afternoon and evenings where they can hang out with each other and they can go to the mall and buy me a Christmas present or whatever they want to do. There is a fine line, and I think this team is mature enough to understand that.”
“There will be time to have fun and enjoy it, and there will be a time to buckle down and understand why we are there.”
Now that school is out and football is their sole priority, the players have found they now have a lot of free time and have found unique ways to keep themselves occupied.
“Well this past week, I’ve done a lot of Christmas shopping and I also have just been relaxing and spending time with the family and just enjoying being around the guys,” said running back I’Tavius Mathers.”
Some players have kept their competitive spirits alive in between practices by playing each other in pool. Not in real life, but on an iPhone app.
“Yeah I’ve been getting a lot of wins in that,” said Linebacker D.J. Sanders. “A lot of my teammates are jealous right now… somebody just blew a win against me but I’m not going to say who.”
“These guys probably workout, lift, run and practice 340 days out of the year,” said Stockstill. “It would be insane on my part not to reward these guys for giving this program and this university 340 days out of 365 and how hard they work not to enjoy this. We’ll understand what we are there for, and our preparation will never take second place.”
MTSU kicks off against Hawaii at 7:30 on Christmas Eve. The game can be viewed on ESPN.
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