Throughout preseason football camp, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Rachel Perreault will take you on a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of the football program that go beyond the practice field. In today’s 10th installment, she checks in with the graduate assistants.
The gears that make the machine run, Tech football’s graduate assistant staff handle a lot of the grunt work to help things run smoothly. Though they are the lowest on the totem pole, this well-oiled machine wouldn’t run the same without them. Graduate assistants Brad Bustle, John Candelas, Jimmy Martin and James Hopper put in long days during camp and throughout the season, doing all the little things behind the scenes to assist the coaching staff and players.
A usual camp day for the GA staff starts with a morning staff meeting, followed by assisting the coaches in player position meetings. They have some down time between morning and afternoon meetings that they usually fill with breaking down film and preparing schedules and scout team plans for practice.
The NCAA changed the rule, which allows each team to have four, instead of just two, GAs on the field coaching, so all four of them are much more involved this season. Bustle works with the defensive linemen, Candelas with the tight ends, Martin spends his time with the offensive line and Hopper is with the defensive backs. The four spend time in their own positions and also work with the scout teams throughout practice.
After practice the GAs will grab dinner and begin preparing for the evening meetings. If there is extra work to be done or things they didn’t have a chance to get to during the day, it could be a long night. But during camp they are usually done by 9:30.
During the season, days are a little different for the foursome. Their down time in the middle of the day is often only filled with class check, which each one of them loathes. After creeping around in the door window and being confused for lost students, they return to their office only to head back out and battle the class-change traffic again.
Since most of their free time throughout the day is filled with work and class check, the long days and occasional late nights rarely induce any cabin fever in the GA office. All of the quality time spent, though, does make things like Candelas’ loud chewing and Martin’s messiness unbearable for the others sitting just two yards away.
Despite the annoyances, camaraderie in the office is undeniable. All four former players took very different paths to where they are
now but they all have the same goal. Besides Hopper, who transitioned immediately from being on the roster as a player last season to a coach this year, they all held jobs outside of football that they would never return to. Miserable being away from the game, they are all happy to be back and patiently waiting for their hard work to pay off.
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