On the third day of Titans training camp, assistant coach Bobby DiRico proposed a challenge to his team, “I want everyone to do one collaborative pushup, but only one person can have their legs touching the ground,” he declared.
The players went down on their stomachs and formed a line that spanned across the turf field next to the arena, creating a human chain with each player’s legs resting on the one behind him. With the afternoon sun beating down on the players, prone on the sizzling turf, they patiently waited for the signal.
“One, two, three, up!” yelled Danny Weaver. Like clockwork, all of the players pushed themselves up at once before setting themselves back down. They quickly got up and gave each other congratulatory high-fives for completing this collaborative task.
These are the kind of team-building activities, according to head coach Craig Doremus, that will help his players develop trust among each other while improving communication.
“We want to make sure that we’re coming together not only as a group, but as a family,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been stressing both on and off the ice so far in camp.”
One activity involved players throwing a soccer ball to each other in name or numerical order to improve familiarity with each other as teammates. Another drill included a relay race where one player had to tread on top of his teammates so he could carry the ball across the field without touching the ground.
Between the off-ice activities, the Titans split up into forward and defensive groups. While one side took the ice to work on skating, passing and shooting, the other side went to the weight room to work on strength and conditioning.
“We have to get back to our tempo and pace since it’s a big part of our game and how we play,” Doremus said.
When the players are not on the ice honing their skills, they find other ways to bond as a team. Earlier this week, they held a scavenger hunt where the squad was broken up into seven groups. Returning defenseman Tyler Antonucci said that it allows newer players to join the veterans in exploring the town and familiarizing themselves with the community.
“There’s a lot of guys that aren’t from the area, so with the scavenger hunt you see different places of the area, you learn where to go or even go out to eat, but most of all become comfortable with the new surroundings,” Antonucci said.
As the camp continues to roll on this week, Doremus said he wants the team to continue forming bonds that will help them through a 60-game campaign that starts next month.
“Our staff has done a great job organizing these activities. I believe that a team can’t do anything special until you come together as a group,” he said. “We not only want the guys to know each other, but care about each other, and so far the team has responded very well.”