BY ANDREAS BUTLER
With their practice field undergoing upgrades, the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats have found an alternative place to conduct football practice.
The Wildcats opened the 2012 season by practicing at New Smyrna Beach Sports Complex.
Inclement weather delayed renovations a week before practices started so the athletic department came up with an alternative. The renovations will include new grass and track and field accessibilities.
“We exercised the option of relocating the first two weeks of practice. “We’re honored that the City of New Smyrna Beach has extended its facilities to us. New Smyrna has a first-rate athletic complex with ample green space, shower and locker facilities and a stadium that more than suits our scrimmage needs. This is like a retreat-like, NFL training camp experience for our student-athletes,” commented Lynn Thompson, B-CU’s athletics director.
‘Red- carpet treatment’
With two-a-day practices 15 miles from campus, there were some logistical challenges.
“This move involves the coordination of the training, equipment, transportation, food service and the administration to work in conjunction with the needs of our student-athletes and coaches. The New Smyrna community has extended their hospitality to us, which is a huge bonus as we try to civic engagement mission,” said Thompson.
Added Matt Musgrove, New Smyrna’s Sports Complex manager, said, “We’re very excited to have Bethune-Cookman football call our park home for two weeks. This represents a new direction for us in the service that we want to provide and we intend to give Bethune-Cookman the red-carpet treatment and provide them with a great training camp heading into what promises to be a great season.
Practices were closed to the public and media during the first week but open practices and scrimmages are being considered.
The team is expected to get back to its regular field on campus during the week beginning Aug. 20.
B-CU opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 2 in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge against Alabama State University at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
Media Day and Fan Fest
B-CU will have its media and photo day on Sunday, Aug. 12 at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach.
Coaches and players will be available to the media for photos and interviews pertaining to the upcoming season.
Fan Fest is set for Sunday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. on the practice field on campus. That day fans are welcome to come out and meet the team for fun and games.
Giving back to community
The Wildcats also are giving back to the local community.
“Anytime that we can get out and work with the youth and leaders of our community we do it. We are committed to helping this community just as this community is to helping us,” said Brian Jenkins, B-CU’s head football coach.
Players helped give away backpacks at the Mayors “Back Pack Give-Away’’ at Derbyshire Park on Aug. 4.
“It was a good experience. I was in the same position as these kids when I was younger. It’s great to show that B-CU cares about Daytona Beach,” stated linebacker Jarkevis Fields.
Later that day, they visited Halifax Hospital Pediatric Unit and the Volusia House.
“In our position people are watching us. We want to reach out to kids. We were once small too. If we were in the hospital at that age and got a surprise visit from a local college team, that’s a great moment. We want to give them that,” commented wide receiver Eddie Poole.
Offensive lineman Terrance Hackney added, “It was really good to bring light to someone else’s situation. I think we really connected with this little 5-year-old boy named Riley. It touched our hearts that he found joy in our visit.”
The Wildcats still had their fourth day of practice that day.
Volleyball: Maroon and Gold game
The Lady Wildcats are set to begin their season Aug. 24-25 at the East Carolina Classic in Greenville, N.C.
Before they hit the hardwood against the competition, they will face off with each other in their Maroon and Gold Game on Sunday, Aug. 19 at Moore Gymnasium at 1:30 p.m.
B-CU has high hopes for the 2012-13 campaign as second year Coach Isaac Raphael still has record-breakers Krysta Gardner and Janeen Davis with some newcomers who will add height to the squad.
Former Wildcat in Olympics
Joel Redhead competed in the year’s summer Olympics in London.
Redhead who finished his career with B-CU in 2009 ran the 200m dash for his native Grenada. He placed eight in his heat in the first round with a time of 21.22 seconds.
In 2009 as a Wildcat, he finished eighth in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.