Our preseason college football coverage commenced on Monday with a trip to WPI to meet with the Engineers. We chatted with a variety of players – you’ll be seeing those video interviews soon – but also head coach Chris Robertson, who is very excited about his fourth season on the sidelines.
Below is our conversation with Robertson, who was kind enough to take a few minutes away from his team’s practice to chat about the upcoming season, his team’s tradition, as well as starting the year under “Friday Night Lights.”
Noontime Sports: This season, your team features all your recruits from seniors to freshmen. That must be exciting, right?
Robertson: “It’s kind of the start to really find out what type of a football program we’re going to be not just this year, but moving forward. We fully expect continue growth and from here on out because we have higher expectations of ourselves. Every Saturday, we’ll compete against any opponent, doesn’t matter who it is, but we don’t talk in terms of wins or losses because instead we talk about being in that moment, working hard in that moment and competing in that moment.”
NS: It certainly seems like there’s a different vibe surrounding this team because everyone is rather excited about practicing, as well as working hard off the field.
Robertson: “Well, I’m still going to push these guys to be the best football players that they can be because there’s no excuses and there’s a high level of accountability. All those things won’t change, but the thing that I have learned about young people these days is that as much as you challenge them to be great players and you hold them accountable by yelling and screaming, off the field you really have to get rid of that stuff and get the wall down. You have to come together as a family by eating and meeting together, and we’ve had different themes every night, too. We’ll sit down and we’ll read from a presentation and have some reflection on things, but at the end of the day it’s about handling adversity and pressure situations and being able to look through a window and not through a mirror. We really want to focus on that moment, but when we’re off the field we’re really focused on being a family and being a brotherhood.”
NS: I am guessing these traditions; along with your team’s senior leadership is what’s helping everyone come together, right?
Robertson: “We’ve always (relied on our traditions), but these guys are finally all mine. The seniors on down, they’re all mine. I think the leadership here with the seniors, who were here as freshmen and saw those things being put in place is great, but now their leadership reflects the things that are important to the program. Our program is a makeup not of me, but the senior leadership. These guys have a lot of those intangible qualities that make this a good environment for everyone.”
NS: Let’s quickly chat about your team’s schedule. Similar to last year, you’ll face the same non-conference foes (Curry College, Norwich University and Worcester State). Care to share why you scheduled these games again?
Robertson: “When you create a relationship with another team, usually it’s not a one year type of thing, so we’ll continue (what we did last year) and I coached against Coach (Skip) Bandini at Curry when I was at Salve Regina for four years. He’s the highest quality person I know, he’s a great man, he’s a great coach and Curry has a great program. Worcester State is Worcester State. The numbers change, the names change, but they’re tough, they’re ferocious, they battle until the end and Coach Brien Cullen is one of my best friends, he does a phenomenal job. And Norwich was a chance for us to kind of bring back an old Freedom Football Conference rivalry, so we jumped at it and we’ll be playing them for a few years and the alumni love it, so those three non-conference games are perfect and a good measurement stick for us as we get into the Liberty League.”
NS: Finally, your team starts its season under “Friday Night Lights” against Curry. That has to be an exciting feeling, even from a coach’s perspective, right?
Robertson: “This year we worked it out with Curry where we could basically get an early day of camp in and you can play Friday and then we can have a normal week to prepare for Worcester State, which is also a Friday game, too. The kids love it and it’s kind of what they love and what they’re accustom to and that whole flavor, but I am just glad that (after back-to-back Friday games), we get into a Saturday routine.”