What NMU football will take from a year without homecoming

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Travis Nelson/NW A HOMECOMING WITHOUT—The NMU Football team might not have a homecoming game this year, but despite the different feeling, players on the team are taking a different perspective and getting ready for when the time comes to play.

Travis Nelson

During normal times, the NMU Football team would be full steam ahead into the newest season. But right now of course, everything’s different, and that also means no homecoming game this year either.

The Wildcats’ homecoming tilt was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 26 against Saginaw Valley State University, but right now the team is just trying to get back into football. NMU had been back to practice, but it’s hard to replicate what practice or games look like after being off of the field for such a long period.

“Most of us have been playing since elementary school and this year, the hard part about all of it is the lack of information where you have on any timeline. We didn’t even know when we were going to be able to start practicing, start lifting,” junior wide receiver Ben Loutsis said. “So the hardest part is pretty much trying to stay in the football mindset.”

Not only is the football mindset important during this time, but so is a positive mindset. Staying positive has been important for sophomore defensive back Tavion McCarthy, especially since the team had no idea where it was headed, he said. However, after meeting with Head Coach Kyle Nystrom and discovering that the team couldn’t take this as a negative, it gave the team much needed chemistry. Throughout the past six months, not only did McCarthy know that positive thinking was needed from his coaching staff, but from his family too.

“What my family always told me was there are two things, there’s a positive and there’s a negative but you can’t look at negatives as a bad thing, you got to look at it as knowledge,” McCarthy said. “So one thing that I take from this is that with these six months, or this first semester or even the springtime, say we don’t have a season, we can take that as knowledge and just get better.”

These players have all taken something from their families, but there’s a different feeling on campus without having them here during homecoming like usual. Loutsis said that it’s unfortunate that his parents aren’t coming up, and for other players and their families, and that it’s always a fun time when they are in Marquette. 

“I don’t even feel any vibes honestly; it’s very different. I mean the football game is obviously the biggest thing to me and there’s not many parents coming up. I don’t feel it in the students and honestly we’re not even able to be around the students,” Loutsis said. “It’s really like nothing’s there and it’s just really sad that we can’t play.”

Even if there’s a negative side to not having a homecoming game, there’s a positive side that the team can take from it too, McCarthy said. 

“Of course [I feel a difference]. I mean everything’s all different but like I said, I take it with a grain of salt. I just make sure that at the end of the day, you got to know where you’re heading to and you can’t look at everything as a negative aspect,” McCarthy said. “What I take from that is even though we could’ve had a homecoming this year, just because we didn’t doesn’t mean that everybody should be down, we should use it as knowledge and also gain from it.”

Players don’t see their families very often the way it is with how the football team lives, McCarthy said, and that it deals with his maturity in times like this. The players have had to really rely on their second family as teammates. The team’s bond has to be tremendous because every player on the team has to be in it and united, McCarthy said.

“I feel like that’s why I was saying that it shouldn’t matter that we didn’t have a season because this is the time to bring your team together and make sure ‘okay when my brother is put down, I have to bring them back up,’” McCarthy said. “That’s also good because you have chemistry within the team and now I’m friends with offensive lineman that I probably barely would talk to during the season or I’m best friends with my coach because we talk everyday now.” 

It has been a long time since this team has played a game of football, and after enduring a long offseason that has brought the team closer together, they’re antsy to back out on the field whenever that time may be.

“Like I said before, we’ve been working. It’s been hard to get practice speed, that game speed, when you’re on your own. Luckily we’ve been able to get back in the [Superior] Dome recently and workout with the team, so that’s been nice,” Loutsis said. “But I’d say we’re ready. Everyone’s itching to play; everyone just wants to play really bad. It’s just unfortunate that we can’t have that Wildcat energy that we’d have right now during the middle of the season.”

The Wildcat energy has been lacking without a football season, but NMU will be looking to bring it inside of the Superior Dome whenever the next opportunity presents itself.