Spring Hill College's new Head Coach Tim Brooks stresses one aspect of the game more than any other. "We must come together as a team to be successful this year," he says. "We have a new coaching staff, we're learning a new system, and a lot of new players have come into the program since last year. You don't have much time in the spring and summer preseason practices to implement a new system, but we've progressed well so far and I see no reason why we can't be successful."
Even a quick glance at Brooks' coaching record shows that he can build a program in a hurry. In his first stint as a head coach at the University of Great Falls, Brooks took the program from an inaugural record of 1-5 in 2007 to a 15-5 record in 2009.
Brooks takes over a program that is ripe for success. His roster includes 28 players including 17 veterans. "Right now we have the players, but leadership is something we have to learn," he says. "As coaches, we have to teach it. We have to find ways to develop it."
Brooks also likes what he sees in his 11 freshmen. "We have guys who are fighting for starting positions and that's something we need," he says. "We need competition at practice. They also know that they are fighting to win the role of who's going to be first off the bench each game. Our freshmen are going to develop over time, of course, but they are also going to help right away."
Brooks believes that the most important thing his team can do on the field is keep possession of the ball. "Keeping possession creates more spaces and that leads to more attack opportunities," he says. "Again, the key is that we must play as a whole unit."
One area where fans will notice a new look right away will be the midfield. Not only has last season's emotional team leader Zachariah Townsend graduated, but Brooks looks to change the SHC midfield from being simply a transitional zone from defense to offense into a more attack oriented unit.
The Badger defense will also feature the new coach's team approach to the game. "Each individual is important in our defense, but more importantly is the whole team perspective," says Brooks. "They must come together under the new system and that can be hard to do, but with time this will be a solid unit."
On offense, Brooks refuses to put the burden of scoring on the shoulders of just one of his players. "In this system, you can't just rely on one or two players to score goals. Frankly, one of my major concerns for the early part of the season is our ability to score as we learn a new way of doing things."
The Badgers face a difficult schedule in 2010 with the college's move into the West Division of the newly expanded Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC). "It's a tough schedule," he says. "But a good thing about moving to the SSAC is that all of our conference games come at the end of the year. That allows you to build a non-conference slate that is truly a preparation for the conference schedule. We also got a bit of a break landing three conference games at home and only two on the road this year."
"We face some difficult challenges," Brooks says. "But, as I said, if we learn to play as a whole unit and learn how to lead and accept leadership, we have the players and depth to be competitive with everyone on our schedule."
Spring Hill opens the 2010 season on Saturday in Batesville, Ark., versus LSU-Shreveport at 3 p.m. and then faces home-standing Lyon College on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Badgers will open the home slate this Thursday on Library Field against the University of West Florida at 5 p.m.