HELENA — Spring practice No. 3 of 15 for the Carroll College football team will occur Tuesday, but at an odd time.
At least for the average college student.
The Saints will take the field at 5:15 a.m. No, that’s not a typo. That’s 5:15 a.m. in the morning.
That means everyone will be out of bed well before that time to be ready for a full speed two-hour workout.
First-year coach Troy Purcell is experimenting with early morning practices this spring with his Tuesday and Thursday on-field meetings.
If they work to his liking, they may become a regular fixture.
“It will be interesting,” running back Major Ali said. “We’ve talked about it as a team, and none of us have had to get up that early for practice. We have been getting up early for the winter workouts on Tuesday and Thursday. So our bodies should be used to it.”
Purcell is building toughness and team chemistry with the morning workouts, but there’s also a logical reason for this move — scheduling.
Getting players to practice as a group at Carroll College has been difficult in recent years because they have classes to attend.
Players would miss practice on a regular basis, come late or leave early with regular afternoon workouts.
“I want all the kids here as a team, and as one unit,” Purcell said. “I don’t want kids trickling in here and some leaving. You adjust, adapt and overcome.”
Purcell learned about the problems with class conflicts as he tried to put together a spring schedule for the first time. Tuesdays were a particularly problematic day.
He found out the Saints couldn’t get consistent practice in the past, so he had to do something drastic.
“We are going at 5 a.m., so we are going to get after it early,” Purcell said. “We got some lights coming in. It’s just how it is. You can’t control things sometimes. The things you can control, you take care of.”
The practice continuity was not just a spring practice problem, but also during the fall season.
That may have been an issue when things didn’t go well on game day. Proper execution didn’t occur because it wasn’t practiced enough with the right personnel.
“That’s going to be a little bit of (a) change,” receiver Shane Sipes said of the practice time. “There won’t be that many weeks of it. We are all bought in. We’ll get through it. We’ll go fast and go hard. This helps with scheduling for classes. Last year kids were leaving early. Now we can have everyone here the the whole time.”
Purcell prepared the players for this during winter workouts. He had them report early in the morning to train.
“I feel our team, we got through winter workouts in the morning,” linebacker Chase Bowen said. “It’s going to be a change to be putting on pads at 5:15, even running. It will be a good change to get us out here and learning things as fast as we can.”
Players accepted the schedule because they want to return to Carroll’s tradition of success.
The four-year postseason hiatus has become too long for them. So any change is worth trying.
“It will take an adjustment to practice that early, mentally waking up,” Ali said. “But it will be good for us. We’ll get up, get our juices going. And then we have the rest of the day to focus on our school work.”