Tuesday, August 14th
HANOVER, N.H. -
The Dartmouth football program is finding news ways to teach and play the game, while continuing to show the positive impact a program can have on the community it's a part of.
Fans young and old flooded onto Dartmouth's Memorial Field Monday night for Football 101. Now in it's fifth year, Football 101 is an opportunity for the community to meet members of the Dartmouth football team and experience, firsthand, some of the drills those players practice themselves.
"I'm from Chicago, so interacting with the Northwestern football players, they seemed like gods to me.", says Big Green senior captain Matt Kasey. "I wanted to be just like them. I just love giving back to the local community, letting the kids have some fun and showing them some good football fundamentals."
Dartmouth is set to open training camp on Thursday. For nearly a decade now, the Big Green have been setting an example other programs are slowing starting to follow. Back in 2010, head coach Buddy Teevens made the then radical decision to ban player on player tackling in practice. Five years later, another innovation, the MVP...Mobile Virtual Player. A remote control practice dummy that allows players to practice full speed tackling without putting another player at risk.
"A Dartmouth football player will never be tackled or make a tackle on another Dartmouth football player.", says Teevens. "Our players have embraced it. I think our coaches have done a good job. We have people around the country calling in…'Hey, what are you doing, who do you do it'. It's nice to have that focus on Dartmouth football."
Player health and a desire to reduce concussions were the driving forces behind these decisions, but they have also gone hand in hand with results on the field. Since 2010, Dartmouth has had just one losing season, finished second in the Ivy League twice and won the Ivy title in 2015, it's first championship in twenty years. In 2016, the entire Ivy League moved to eliminate tackling in practice.
While wins on the field may validate the changes Dartmouth has enacted in the eyes of those outside the program, for Teevens and his players win or lose they know what they are doing is right for the future of the game of football and those that play it.
"It was something I didn't really understand until I got here.", says senior captain Ky McKinney-Crudden. "I think it's something that works really well here in the Ivy League. We go ten straight weeks, no byes, you need your big players to be healthy and be able to perform all year."
"We've got five guys being paid to play professional football right now.", says Teevens. "They all graduated and they all saved themselves a lot in terms of the type of practices we've had. That's a great allure to guys that have aspirations of playing later on in life, but also guys that want to be engineers or doctors or lawyers. We're taking care of our players and I wish more people would follow suit."