After being hired in late February, new Head Coach Pat Veltri spent little time celebrating and went right to work. Just a week after taking the post, the new head coach was meeting with his offensive skill players and preparing for the winter passing league. Soon after he began hiring a new coaching staff and changing the culture of Kenmore East Football. By March, Veltri had hired a new coaching staff with some brand new and familiar faces. At the June player/parent meeting, Veltri made it clear that things were going to be different, that discipline and accountability were going to be important. The head coach told me that “We want to instill a work ethic, we want the players to show up everyday, be prepared and to give their best effort day in and day out.”
The Booster Club has been given a spark from the new coach, this summer they have been organizing car washes, team bonding events and promoting the program. Booster Club President Jessica Vitale has only praises for the new coach. “(Veltri) has been great, (he’s) met with us several times, he’s very willing to help, he’s got great ideas for fundraising… he’s looking at this in the long-term”. Veltri says “The booster club has been great in providing support for our players.” On July 3rd, four players Jake Elgie, Billy Sautter, Zach Price and Brendan Young, went around town to local businesses promoting the team and soliciting ads for game programs. The team played Airsoft this past weekend as a team bonding experience and has more planned before the season begins. Team meals are planned for the two-a-days and the night before games.
The Bulldogs’ summer program has already shown the culture change the staff wants to bring. The workouts for the summer began during exam week, three weeks before they would’ve been in the past.The workouts are much more skill and cardio based than in the past. The players truly found out that the coaches meant business now, after they left the locker room dirty. The players had to run about a half-dozen 40 yard-dashes at 100 percent, and that was before conditioning. The preseason two-a-days have gone though a huge overhaul. Practices will begin at 6:30 am and end at 1:00 pm with 2 practices of about 2 hours and a break in between that will include lunch and time in the pool. The motive behind the format for Veltri is consistency of the 6:30 am start time and having cooler weather in the morning for practicing. More consistency will be seen at practice as players were required to purchase player-packs so they will have matching jerseys and socks for practices and games.
The Head Coach believes his players have responded well to the changes, “We have had great turnouts at our morning training sessions and the players continue to work diligently learning new systems”.
I talked to some of the team leaders after a workout last week. The players are excited about the new direction of the program. They feel the coaching staff is very talented and experienced. A common theme from the players is that the staff has brought a sense of professionalism with it. Junior Antonio Scolla put it best saying, “It’s not a game, this is like a job”. Senior Matt Cook is happy about the new format for two-a-days, that includes practice starting 2 1/2 hours earlier than the past “I love it, get up 5 o’clock, make me some eggs and orange juice and I’m completely OK with it”. Scolla said “I’m looking forward to swimming”. Senior Dion Woods loves the format, that it will “give the feel of a real NFL program”.
The Bulldogs have a second car wash coming up on August 9th at Sorrentino’s Sports Center. Kenmore East will play their first game under the lights at Grand Island at 7pm on September 4th.