By Lizzie Mitchell
A cluster of green and white jerseys huddled together as the word “Jacks” echoed off the stadium seats and trees surrounding the Redwood Bowl.
The HSU football team laced up its cleats and practiced as a team for the first time this spring on March 11. A total of 75 players huddled together and then broke off to start warming up for drills.
Nick Ricciardulli, a 23-year-old recreation major, is team captain for the Lumberjacks and started last season as running back. He said that the team as a whole is working on a lot this spring, and is pleased with his teammates so far.
“We have focused this spring on improving our tempo and intensity in practice,” said Ricciardulli. “We know that how we perform on game day is determined by how we practice.”
He also that spring is a good time for the development of younger players, and he looks forward to seeing that.
“I’m interested to see who wants to step up,” said Ricciardulli. “I want to see who can play at a consistently high level to help us win games this fall.
Among the freshmen on the Lumberjacks is Trevor Short, an 18-year-old kinesiology major who is looking to start as an offensive linebacker. He said that he wants to learn more about the team’s system this spring.
“I mostly look forward to just being back on the field doing what I love,” said Short. “I’m hoping to put on a few more pounds to be able to compete at a high level.”
Both Ricciardulli and Short also said that they have formed good friendships with their teammates, and get to be with with them more now that spring started. In addition to the team spending more time together, their chances of injury have also increased because of the physical practices.
Athletic trainer Neema Kianfar said that the start of spring practice has increased his workload. He has to prepare for practices and make sure that all of the players’ injuries are taken care of.
“You’ve got to be pretty quick and multitask a lot,” said Kianfar. “You really have to be on top of things everyday.”
He also said that it isn’t all work, because he enjoys seeing familiar faces in the training room and on the field again.
The Lumberjacks started their practices to improve and prepare for Fall 2013 season, and still have 14 more practices ahead of them. While spring is mainly a time to improve and learn, Ricciardulli said that his entire experience on the team has been a learning experience.
“I have learned countless lessons that will guide me on my future endeavors in life,” said Ricciarduli. “I’ve also developed friendships with my teammates that will last a lifetime.”