FOOTBALL SEASON officially arrived on August 11, when the Skyhawks met for their annual conditioning test at midnight-a recent tradition-at the W.B. Mason Stadium.
Beyond Wins and Losses
Eli Gardner Promoted to Head Football Coach
YOUNG FOOTBALL COACHES often have to move from school to school to climb up the coaching ladder. Fortunately for the Skyhawks football team, Eli Gardner has been able to stay rooted at Stonehill. On the coaching staff since 2009, Gardner was named head coach of the football team in June.
“A perfect season for me is for us to have a cumulative team grade point average of 3.0 and be conference champions. I wouldn’t want one without the other.” —Coach Gardner
A decision supported by outgoing coach Robert Talley, who resigned in the spring, Gardner’s hiring provides a smooth transition for the program. Originally the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach, Gardner rose to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Skyhawks. Along the way, he was named the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston’s 2015 Division II Assistant Coach of the Year.
As head coach for his first season, Gardner is staying true to the program’s philosophy. “Everybody obviously wants to win football games. I think that’s almost taking the easy way out when you set goals and say we want to be conference champions,” he says. “Our success as a program will be defined by our ability to play together and as one unit.”
But being conference champions wouldn’t be a perfect season to Gardner. “A perfect season for me is for us to have a cumulative team grade point average of 3.0 and be conference champions. I wouldn’t want one without the other.”
Gardner notes that the program, which thrived under Talley, has been able to develop true ambassadors of Stonehill and create an atmosphere where players get the best athletic experience possible without ever compromising their academic experience.
To help guide their student-athletes, every coach on Gardner’s staff meets once a week with their position players to discuss academics. Gardner says no football talk is allowed.
“When you focus on more than just football as we have as a program, I think the players really begin to appreciate that. They understand that we care about them more than just on the field on Saturdays,” Gardner says. “I want people to look at our program and say, ‘They are definitely doing things the right way—all-encompassing. Not just from a wins and losses standpoint.’”
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