Thursday, April 4, 2013
Deacs take a break with ... belly flops?
By Heather Dinich
Wake Forest offensive tackle Steven Chase is sitting out this spring with a torn ACL. He can’t do anything in the weight room. He can’t do anything on the field. But he can eat pizza -- which means he can still compete.
Chase fired down four big slices -- the equivalent to half a large pie (according to sources) -- to win the Deacs’ pizza eating contest on Wednesday, but that was only part of the afternoon team competitions. There was a belly flop contest between the linemen (congrats, veteran nose tackle Nikita Whitlock, for the most fabulous flop). There was a 3-point shooting contest. There was a sled push, dodgeball, tug-of-war, punting and a “sweatshirt swim” in which players swam the length of the pool in a hoodie and then had to take it off and get it onto a teammate quickly to win the race.
“The guys had a blast,” said offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke, who helped organize the events with senior receiver Michael Campanaro, defensive back A.J. Marshall and co-defensive coordinator Brian Knorr.
Chase and his teammates were all #WakeForestSuperStars on Wednesday afternoon in what was one of the most light-hearted, entertaining sessions of the spring in the ACC. The Deacs took a break from the grind of the gridiron and the seniors drafted eight teams, with a full draft board in one of the team meeting rooms. (“Some people were saying people were drafting like Al Davis,” said offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch, “they were just going for the flash.”) They then competed in four team events and four individual events, and the winning team (senior tight end Spencer Bishop’s team) got T-shirts that read: Wake Forest Superstars Champions.
“It’s a nice break, especially for us as coaches, too,” said Himebauch. “We’re around our guys all the time, just grinding and going hard with game plans, scheming and practice and workouts that to get the guys in an event like that where it’s fun and lighthearted, but also, you really find out who’s a competitor, and who by any means is going to try to find a way to win.
“We had guys playing dodgeball and they were on the team but acted like they were out, but had a ball behind their back,” he said. “Campanaro came flying out of nowhere and tagged a couple of guys. It’s pretty fun.”
There were also some sleepers in the competition. Ryan Bauder -- a walk-on long snapper and the last man drafted -- won the 3-point shooting contest.
“That was awesome,” Lobotzke said.
“He was the darkhorse surprise,” Himebauch said with a laugh. “He definitely wasn’t a first-round draft pick, but he was a guy who held his own and was a nice surprise.”
The event started around 2:30 p.m. and ended about four hours later with a barbeque for the entire team. Make no mistake, the Deacs are working hard this spring to improve upon last year’s 5-7 finish. Wednesday’s competitions, though, were part of the plan, as a little time for team building now can go a long way later.
“This breaks things up for the fall,” Himebauch said. “Spring can be a bit of a grind, but I know the guys like being out there. It’s changed their focus and preparation in the offseason, that it’s not just same old grind in the weight room. We’re doing some things to make it fun, but you also want to see guys compete and you want to see them get after each other.”
Steven Chase included.