Laying the foundation: Freier gets Winger football team on the field for first time
Traveling just over 1,000 miles for his newest coaching destination, Nate Freier is beginning to lay the foundation of what he wants Red Wing football to become.
"I know people want the program to succeed and I wouldn't have moved halfway across the country if I didn't think it could," Freier said.
Already in the midst of off-season weight training, Freier and the rest of the Red Wing football team got to talk Xs and Os for the first time as the team had its first mini-camp Monday at Red Wing High School.
"We're kind of bringing a new attitude to everything. We're focusing on the little things and building, trying to get more people out," said upcoming junior Mac DeSutter. "We're just trying to establish a base."
Last year, the Wingers had to wait until July 7 before John Ott was hired as the head coach. With Freier being the team's fourth head coach in five years, gaining stability has been a top priority for the new man in charge.
"I've told (the players) they're going to be drinking through a fire hose because they've learned four systems in five years, so it's going to take us some time to get them up to scratch," Freier said on Monday. "But I'm super proud of the effort they put in today and just the fact they're out here in June getting their work done. ... You come in with 25 guys, 25 becomes 30, 30 becomes 35, 35 becomes 40, etc."
A lot of that early progress has come in the weight room, and that hasn't come without overcoming a setback. Because of construction at the high school, the football team has lifted in the mornings at Anytime Fitness in Red Wing.
"If you keep putting in the work in the weight room and do your stuff off the field, it's going to make it a lot harder to lose a game on Friday nights," said upcoming junior Marcus Walm. "You have a lot more invested in it. You want to fight for that win."
Freier added, "The owner Corey (O'Day) is doing a great job but we have to make things work there. He's got customers, so we have to be good citizens."
As the team got their first taste of Freier's new way of doing things, whether on the field or in the weight room, early returns are promising.
"It's huge having a coach that's pushing us, wanting to get better every day even before the season," DeSutter said. "He says there's no more walking into August and picking up a football. We want to work on it all summer."
Walm added, "Coach is really intense but he's got high energy and he keeps you motivated and you want to keep working. He shows you what your goal should be and makes it seem within reach."
Freier traveled a long distance to return home and coach his alma mater. But he's building the base for a team he hopes can become a staple of Winger football for the foreseeable future.
"What I hope to bring is stability. I'm not going anywhere," Freier said. "I want these kids to make the program, I'm just here to help them. I want kids to believe they have ownership of the outcome and that they're going to hold themselves and others accountable and we're going to help put them in position that helps them get the job done."
Red Wing opens the 2017 season on Sept. 1 on the road against New Prague.