MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan football team kicked off spring practices last week, which requires them to be in pads and at the Superior Dome by 6:30 a.m.
“It’s a battle. But we did it all winter with fourth quarter and off–season conditioning so we’re in that routine right now. We’ll finish up through spring ball with that routine,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said.
And at that time of the day, some people don’t have the energy to even get out of bed, let alone participate in a football practice.
“I’m not concerned about the coaches or myself. I get more concerned about the players. I tell our players, “tough people have fun doing hard things”. And that’s who we are, what we are and how we got to live right now,” said Nystrom.
Nystrom has been around many different college environments on all three divisional levels, and he says other than the size of his coaching staff, it’s all same in terms of effort level and expectations.
“I’ll coach at Northern Michigan the same way I coached at Texas Christian. It’s no different to me. That’s just the way I’m wired. It’s who I am, what I do, how I live. If the coaches don’t move fast and push hard, the players never will. That’s kind of my thought process and just how I roll as a coach,” Nystrom said.
And one of the biggest additions to his coaching staff is his father, NMU legend Buck Nystrom, who even at the age of 85 is still making sure the players know what they have to do during drills.
“It’s a gift to have him with us. There’s no one that has the sort of experience or that street cred as an offensive line coach. He’s that guy and we’re fortunate to have him helping us. He’s got a lot of pride in restoring this program to the things that we used to be able to do with it. I think that’s his life mission right now , and who am I to say that shouldn’t be any other way,” said Nystrom.
The Wildcats have eight more practice sessions before the big Spring Game, where all the hard work will be shown on the field.
“I want to be healthy when we’re done with it. And I want to be able to say offensively and defensively do we know what we want to do and do they know what to do, our players. Our program is built on a real easy rule. We want effort and toughness academically, socially and athletically, and that’s all we demand from you. If you can do that, you’re going to be in good standing here,” Nystrom said.
The Spring Game is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday April 8th at the Superior Dome.