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Golden Eagles gush over fresh surface on first day of camp
John Cominsky admitted he sounded a little corny as he gushed over the new turf at University of Charleston Stadium. Yet he couldn't help it and he didn't care.
That improvement means that much to the 6-foot-5, 275 pound senior UC defensive lineman and his teammates.
"The first four years, I played on that old turf, he said. "Then to come out here with the new turf, it's better late than never.
"You got guys coming out here sprinting to the field, he continued. "It's something where I've had to fight to get some of the guys excited for a practice.
When the Golden Eagles sprint to the field now, their football cleats catch a little firmer into the new turf, completed over the weekend for UC's first day of preseason camp Monday morning. The playing surface is something coaches hope will boost the players both physically and mentally.
The stadium's former playing surface was more than a decade old, and that age was beginning to show. Cominsky said football cleats wouldn't dig in to the old turf as well and there was a chance their feet would slide out from under them. That's not good for ligaments, especially those in the knee.
UC coach Pat Kirkland was ecstatic to have a new field that might cut down on both serious injuries and the basic wear and tear to a body that comes with a football season.
"It's about the student-athletes, one, their safety and, two, their experience, Kirkland said. "It's a better surface. With injury prevention, that's the biggest obstacle that you have in football. You have to make sure you take care of those players. This obviously puts us in the position to do so.
He also wants to lift team spirits. The new turf shows the players the commitment the university has made to their program and the improved surface is a welcome addition after years of playing on a beaten-up field.
"It creates a little more excitement for these guys, Kirkland said. "You always like new stuff. These guys came out and had a little bit of spark.
Kirkland hopes that spark carries into the regular season. The Golden Eagles are trying to get back to the heights they achieved in 2015, when they won 10 games and reached the Division II playoffs for the first time. They won seven combined games in the next two seasons, finishing 3-8 in 2016 and 4-6 in 2017.
If the words of defensive end Kahzin Daniels are any indication, UC players are overjoyed to get this new addition to their lives. The Lindy's Magazine Preseason Second-Team All-American said he and his teammates won't overlook it.
"Giddy is the only word I could use to describe it, man," Daniels said. "I'm getting excited just talking about it right now. You can see the crystals in it, the gleam off it and the sun is just right.
"We worked so hard for it, we're just going to appreciate it and take advantage of it."
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