Valley College has begun to prepare for next season of football, practicing four days a week and holding events to bond and build team chemistry.
By Nicholas Orozco, Special to the Star
The Monarchs have a packed slate, allowing the team to prepare for its upcoming football season and coach Lester Towns to take advantage of his first full year of being in charge of the program.
Following a taxing season in which the Monarchs finished with a 3-7 record, Valley College football has begun spring practice and is looking to kick into gear and have a more successful campaign in 2022. Hired in August 2019 and with the COVID-19 pandemic shifting schedules in 2020 and 2021, the upcoming season will allow the former University of Alabama assistant to have time to completely construct his team.
“The biggest thing for me is that we get a full year of recruiting," said Towns. "It gives us a full year of training and getting the guys ready. “It’s a true full year for me, which I have been waiting for, for the last couple years.”
Valley looks to take advantage of the four months ahead before a likely August start to the 2022 campaign. This is a pivotal time for the Monarchs as they welcome freshmen that have entered the program during the offseason.
“We keep this going so [new recruits are] joining a positive environment and not joining with any negativity,” said strength and conditioning coach John Hassell.
Hassell believed in the importance of bringing these players into an environment that is cohesive and holds strong unity between everyone. Throughout 2022, he has been overlooking the weight room, supporting his players and placing the blocks to have his players reciprocate the action.
“When they're out there doing drills [last season], they would holler at each other and call each other names," said Hassell "We don’t have any of that this year.”
The players seem to have built respect for each other early on in the training process. During practice, there is little negative attitude throughout instruction and drills.
Four-year coaches from around the nation are coming to check out the Monarchs practice. Over the past two weeks, Fresno State, NC Central, New Mexico State, San Diego State and UCLA have visited with Towns and the roster. “It is great, because, over the last year and a half, colleges have been unable to go on community college campuses because of the pandemic,” said Athletic Director Dave Mallas. “I think community colleges, as well as four-year coaches, are excited to go out and scout the talent that they are looking for.”
Towns is ready for what is ahead as he uses formerly inaccessible time to arrange his roster, giving him the opportunity to better the program and make it his own.
Now having the shot to start fresh with some resources already in place from his first three years, the 44-year-old coach plans on spending more time scouting, training and conditioning his players, as well as gaining the coaching support he needs to sculpt a winning season.
A strong advocate of always having his players primed to compete, Towns looks at every Monarch as a potential x-factor.
Even the bench players are a crucial piece to his squad, with substitutes needing to stay attentive in order to enter the contest at any moment.
“Next man up,” said Towns.