A break from preseason practice was greeted with smiles by the players as was a chance to show off the newest addition to the Greyhound legacy - new uniforms.
“I went to the players at the end of last year and told them that the superintendent, Dr. (Larry) Bennett, was going to let the team get new uniforms,” Poole explained.
“I told them we had a few options but that I was going to leave it up to them.”
Explaining four uniform options to his team, he left the vote entirely up to them.
“We didn’t tell them they would be NIKE uniforms or anything, we just gave them color options,” he noted.
“I told them we could go traditional orange tops over black pants, black tops over orange pants, orange tops over orange pants and black tops over black pants.”
A quick show of hands - or lack thereof - left the second year coach with little doubt where the vote was headed.
“I got a piece of paper and asked for a show of hands for option one, not one kid raised their hand, and I knew exactly which option they wanted. It was the same for each option.”
He added, “I got to black tops and black pants and every kid in the room raised their hand.”
Saturday, it was obvious by the looks on the player’s faces, they still believed in their break from tradition.
“Coach Poole came to us and told us we could get new uniforms this year and gave us several choices and this was what all the players wanted, black on black. I think it was a good choice,” senior center and three-year starter Will Bowen noted.
“I think the biggest reason was for change,” Bowen explained, “they look cool.”
Bowen and fellow senior leader, linebacker Stephen Neal think the new uniforms show a commitment level from the coaching staff and administration and the players are taking notice.
“Always getting new stuff, like the uniforms, just seems to grab the player’s attention a little more and makes them want to do well,” Bowen said.
“I think the new uniforms and some of the other things have motivated us to work harder and that has made them (the coaches) want to work harder too,” Neal explained.
While the Greyhounds will have a new look when they get to the field, their arrival will also have a new twist.
As the football squad arrives at the playing surface of Greyhound Field, the players will race into action through a new Greyhound helmet run-through, which the players are also excited about, Poole notes.
“When we first got here, that was one of the things not just the players but some in the community wanted to know, was when we were going to get a run-through,” he said.
Page 2 of 3 - “Luckily, we were able to work with Benjy Harris and Harris Ford and the Drive One 4 Ur School program and raised $6,000, all of which went to the run-through.”
He continued, “Our kids are excited about it. They have seen other teams use them for years and now they have their own.”
“We owe a lot to Mr. Harris and Harris Ford for their help and support.”
The head coach also mentioned the help of the community with other aesthetic features of the program.
“Dr. Bennett has tried to upgrade the facilities, painting the visitor’s bleachers, painting inside the Keedy Building, basically renovating it inside and it looks real good,” Poole explained.
“The visitor’s bleachers have gotten a coat of paint, we just wanted to get some color out here. We thank Dr. Bennett and the administration for putting some money into that.”
The playing surface is improved also, according to Poole, again thanks to the help of the community.
“Brad Keiffner is someone who has been helping myself and the coaching staff with the field.”
He continued, “He is always willing to come over here and give us advice and help us have the best playing surface we can have.”
New goal posts will be up for the home opener, again aided by several members of the community.
“Eddie Cooley has been there with us through the whole process. Tommy Freeman has gone above and beyond - that guy works all the time,” Poole noted.
“Mark Bowen and Farmer’s Electric came out and pulled the old goal posts and helped drill some holes for us. Neal Pankey and Mobley Construction came out poured the concrete for us. It has been a community effort and I can’t say enough about those guys. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be getting this stuff done.”
In year two under Poole, the players have noticed a renewed commitment - and focus - from the players.
“We know that they are behind us and it makes us want it more from the sophomores all the way to the seniors. We all want it more,” said Neal.
“This was a decision by the kids, for the kids,” Poole explained.
“Things like this though have seemed to give the kids a sense of ownership in the program and when you couple that with the fact that this is the second year in the system and it has made the preseason go pretty smooth,” Poole said.
“We have a lot more refining this preseason than teaching and the kids are getting more comfortable in both the offensive and defensive systems. We will obviously know more after the scrimmage game with Pocahontas.”
Page 3 of 3 - The Greyhounds - and Greypups - will travel to Pocahontas Tuesday, Aug. 21 for a controlled scrimmage with the Redskins.
The Greyhounds will open the regular season Friday, Aug. 31 at Greyhound Field as they play host to the Nettleton Raiders in a non-conference tilt.