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UVM Basketball 2007-2008
Written by Vermont Sports Network   
Sunday, 22 July 2007
 For 34 years, Vermont Football has been dead. In mere weeks, it will rise from the, well, foliage when The Fightin' Catamounts take the field for preseason practice. We caught up with the club's founder (and wide receiver), sophomore Doug DeLuca, who was gracious enough to answer our questions. For more information, go to uvmclubfootball.com.

CC: When did you start planning the resurgence of Vermont football? Was it before you even became a student? What were the first steps that you took? What kind of feedback did you get from fellow students? Who was the first person to step forward and say: 'I want to suit up for The Fightin' Catamounts?'
DD:  I came to UVM with the idea of investigating the start up of a club football team. I knew that club football existed in other parts of the country, but had little knowledge about how they were run and what it took to start a football team. I started investigating what needed to be done in late September 2006 after I had settled in at UVM. I spoke with the Club Sports Director and the Student Government Association to get more details about starting up a club. The biggest concerns were competition and funding. I discovered that the University of Maine had a club, and immediately looked into joining the league they were in which is the Northeast Independent Football League. This is a club or “semi-pro” league based throughout New England.  That took care of our competition. I held an interest meeting in November and about 40 guys showed up. There were many very enthusiastic players who wanted to suit up again, and get on the field. It was great to see such an interest.

CC:  Let's back track, why did Vermont die in the first place?
DD:  I cannot say exactly why the school cancelled the program in 1974, but I believe that it was mostly an economical decision at the time. The UVM Football team was not doing too well on the field, and the school wanted to invest more money in sports like basketball and hockey.

CC:   How have alums reacted? What's the most enthusiastic response that you got from alum?
DD:    I have received a great reaction from football loving alumni, friends, and Burlington residents. The UVM Football Alumni have been more than enthusiastic about football returning to UVM, even if it is only on the club level. The most enthusiastic response I received was from an avid football fan and former UVM player David Gemelli. He called me up one day and couldn’t stop talking about the possibilities of what this may be able to do for the school. He was also generous enough to supply us with a donation to get us off the ground.

CC:  Has President Fogel addressed the team? How about Dr. Corran?
DD:  In general, club sports do not really interact with the UVM Athletic Department. I believe that the UVM Club Football team had to be approved by the Athletic Department, and Dr. Corran was addressed with the issue. The Athletic Department placed certain requirements on the team, and as long as we followed those, the Athletic Dept. will approve and support UVM Club Football.  I have heard that President Fogel is a big football fan from his college days at LSU. I know President Fogel knows about the team, and I have heard that he is excited about the prospect of the club. I hope to see him at our home games.

CC:  Has Woj offered any words of wisdom? If so, please share. Has he offered to broadcast some of the games via radio or internet or even podcast?
DD:  I have not gotten the chance to speak with Chris Wojcik about the UVM Club Football. I would hope that he is supportive of the program, and hopefully he will offer to broadcast our games. We have already gotten an offer from ESPN Radio 1390, which covers the Frost Heaves and the Vermont Ice Storm. It would be great to have both Chris and ESPN Radio at the games.

CC:   As far as getting started, what were the biggest obstacles? What steps did you take to solve them?

DD:    The biggest obstacles in getting the club team started were many people’s concerns about safety and liability. The Risk Management Department. and the Medical Director at the Center of Healthcare and Wellbeing have both expressed extensive concerns about club football at the university. To satisfy the concerns of both parties, the SGA has taken on a new type of insurance coverage, which covers all of the club sports and will better insure the university. The UVM Club Football team will also be hiring full- time trainers to cover the players by request of the Medical Director. Other club sports do not have to do this. However, it is the best thing for the safety of the players.

CC:   We know you had some practices last spring. How many players showed up? Do you have a kicker? What kind of drills did you do?

DD:    Last spring we had practices every Saturday for the month of April, and the last weekend in May. During these practices, we ran various agility drills, and began to get the team in a football mindset. We started learning the beginnings of the playbook, and running the offense and defense. Every weekend about, 40-50 players showed up. We have solid players on both sides of the ball, including kickers.

CC:   Talk about the coaches. Who are they? What's their style? Is it more Lonergan or Brennan?
DD:  Our head coach is Darren Haynes. He is a teacher in South Burlington, but is originally from Louisiana. He was a QB at LSU and knows the game of football very well. He has drawn up the offensive and defensive playbook, which both look great. We should be very competitive with what we have. Coach Haynes is definitely more Brennan style. We have a solid playbook, but look more to the players to get fired up and get things done. Coach wants this to be something each kid loves to do, and wants more than anything to be on the sideline representing UVM.
We have two assistant coaches. Ian Stroud is our line coach. He is a former lineman from Arkansas State. David Motherway is our TE/Special Teams coach.

CC:   Talk about the players. How much experience do they have? Have any played college before?
DD:    We have a wide variety of experience and skill on the football team right now. We have guys with college experience, and guys with no experience at all. It’s going to be interesting coming into pre-season and seeing what they can do. We haven’t practiced in pads yet, so everything is still up in the air, but we do have some standout players up on the depth chart already. Some of our players have had experience at Norwich, Endicott, and Concordia. We also have several standout high school athletes. Many are local Vermonters!

CC:   A playbook has been written. What kind of offense will the team utilize?

DD:    The team will be running a multiple west coast offense, and a 4-3 defense.

CC:   How often will the team practice during the school year?

DD:    For our first year, we are scheduled to have two full pad team practices with coaches each week. However, the guys on the team will definitely be working hard all week long. As a club sport, due to limited facilities, you only get two official practices a week. So, that’s just what we have to work with right now. We do have a pre-season scheduled to start August 13 in which we will have two a days the first week, and practice every day the second.

CC:   Are there any scrimmages scheduled against Middlebury and Norwich or any college teams for that matter?
DD:    We have discussed the idea of scheduling a scrimmage against a Middlebury or Norwich. However, we feel that we wouldn’t be ready to compete with them this year. Perhaps next year when the team is more solidified, we will feel ready to schedule a game like that.

CC:   Where will the team play their home games? What will admission be?
DD:    The team is scheduled to have our four home games at Burlington High School. They are on September 8, September 15, October 6, and October 28. All of the games except the October 28th game are at 7 pm on Saturday night.
As of right now, general admission is going to be $5. However, we will most likely be setting up a lower student rate with UVM ID. We plan on having a raffle set up, and a merchandise table. Burlington High School will most likely be running concessions as well in case any one gets hungry.

CC:   Will your singing group perform at half time? While we're on the subject, you're a pretty dynamic guy - singing and football. What do they share in common?
DD:    We plan on hosting a couple of the UVM clubs at our games. The UVM Dance Team, and the Catamount Dance Team have expressed interest in performing at the games. I sing in the UVM Top Cats, but will not be participating in the group during the fall. We do plan to have them sing the National Anthem at our games. It would be a hard balance between school, football, and singing, but I plan to re-join the group after the season is over.
Not many people may be able to connect football and singing, but in my experience, I have found they can be quite similar. When you sing in a small group like the Top Cats, you do find that same sort of camaraderie that you find when you play on a team sport like football.

CC:   Going into the preseason, what is your greatest concern?
DD:  I think that my biggest concern is how we are going to be up front. The team has a lot of good skilled position players. We have QB’s, RB’s, WR’s DB’s and LB’s, but are lacking those “big-boys.” While we have a couple of solid lineman, I’m not sure that we have all the experience and skill that we are going to need. Linemen are one of the most important, if not the most important, part of a football team. I’m hoping that the incoming freshman class may be able to offer us a couple guys who might be 6’3, 280lbs. Something like that.

CC:  If you want to add anything, the floor is yours.
DD:  I know that we are just a club football team, but I believe that this is something that the university has wanted for a long time. Vermont’s the only state besides Alaska without a football team to represent it. There’s no telling what the university will do with this club. It could go varsity, or just stay a club forever. Either way, I think that it will be great to be able to offer students the chance to play or just watch football at UVM. I know that there are many people looking forward to this upcoming season, and I am definitely looking forward to suiting up and getting back on the field. I hope to see everyone at the games supporting the team! I think that it is going to be a lot of fun for everyone.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 July 2007 )
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