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Old 08-06-2016, 07:53 AM   #1
Marc Wigim
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Default ***ARTICLE*** Football Media Day 2016: The Culture

I just want to thank the University of Northern Iowa athletic department for allowing me to do this! I had a wonderful experience and I hope that comes through in this article.

Football Media Day 2016: The Culture

I want to write about this program’s culture. I’ve been attracted to it since my freshman year at UNI as a member of the Panther Marching Band and it’s always been a big part of my life since. I set out to determine what makes a perennial power tick. “This is all about developing young men on the football field, developing young men for life,” said Coach Mark Farley. He seemed to be right on point with what I was going to talk about in my write-up. I decided that would be my theme as I talked to players and coaches individually.

“Why we win consistently is because we develop players,” he continued. He prefers giving incoming players a chance to fully understand the culture behind the University of Northern Iowa’s football team. There is often a lot to take in, but the players who have succeeded here can attest to the challenge.

“I’m trying to go out there and receive the ball in the backfield and open up a new element the defense will have to account for,” said senior running back Tyvis Smith. His positive attitude shone through as he talked about his game versus another great Panther running back: David Johnson. His game is a little different than Johnson’s, but Smith reminded me a lot of the type of athlete Johnson was: full of character and desire to be better. With that attitude, I made a mental note to myself to watch the special things he will likely do in the backfield this season.

New Quarterbacks Coach Collin Klein sees this attitude as well. “The people here are incredible,” he explained. “They really care about you and everybody around them. It shows in how they do their work, how they do their business… I love the blue-collar atmosphere. We’re gonna work extremely hard and we’re going to try and perfect their craft and do it better than everyone else. That suits me very well, and I have really appreciated that feel that I get from this place.”

“Honestly the best advice I’ve received is ‘you have to be yourself,’” he said as he expounded upon his philosophy. The focus and good attitude was prevalent in the way he talked. I was impressed as I saw what made him a standout at Kansas State and I made another mental note to myself: I was excited to see how a player like Aaron Bailey would respond under his coaching.

“I believe that every day you can improve on something, no matter what. Whether it’s academics, football, or life… If I can make someone else’s life better during that day, then I’m doing my job as a person, as a player, as a student-athlete,” senior offensive lineman Robert Rathje said when I asked him about the culture at UNI and how he fit in. He talked about UNI Football as a family and what it meant to him. He talked of the same camaraderie that I had felt as a wide-eyed freshman. I could relate to it, and I made my final mental note of the day: Robert Rathje will go on to do great things.

So those lessons were what I took away from my time at UNI Football Media Day. The same friendly faces and outstanding student athletes that make my foray back into writing extremely enjoyable. I look forward to covering this year’s team as they start the year. My nerves definitely showed in everything that I did, but I did it, and now comes the fun part: following along with fellow Panther fans as the 2016 team makes a name for itself.

"Once it starts, it never ends."
-Eldon Miller
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Old 08-06-2016, 12:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: ***ARTICLE*** Football Media Day 2016: The Culture

Great read Marc. Keep them coming!
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