This entry comes from our friend Grant Bosiacki – a.k.a. the vikings.com Blogging Ballboy. Grant was with the team for 2 weeks at 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and has chimed in with his thoughts. Grant will also be sharing his thoughts periodically throughout the regular season.
Hey everyone, the blogging ballboy is back. As training camp ended on Friday, the 13th of August, the players and staff took off to St. Louis for their 1st preseason game. With the team heading to St. Louis, I went back home after having a great 2 weeks in Mankato.
When I first arrived at 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp in Mankato, no players had reported to camp yet. The first thing I did was check in with Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan. Dennis gave me 2 sets of the usual ballboy uniform for training camp, which consists of a yellow shirt, purple shorts, a Vikings hat and a white pair of Reebok shoes. A few other ballboys were already there, and the rest, along with the players, would be arriving later that night (Thusday, July 29).
One of the major changes this training camp was moving from Gage Hall to the newer Julia A. Sears building. This was my 3rd year at training camp and I never had a problem with Gage for the 2 camps I worked, but many people were excited about the move to Julia A. Sears because of air conditioning! The move to dorms with air conditioning was nice and the rooms were much more comfortable, however the walk from the practice field to Julia Sears was considerably longer than from Gage. Having to walk a bit further was justified, luckily, when I found out each room had a toilet and shower (to be shared with the room next door).
As the dorms we stayed in changed considerably, the players for this camp did not. Of course plenty of new faces were in the locker rooms, but not many spots are open, as the Vikings return every single starter and most of their key backups from last year’s team. One of the new faces was rookie RB Toby Gerhart, who is looking to replace Chester Taylor as Adrian Peterson’s backup. To me, Toby seemed very focused. He was pretty quiet, as most rookies are, but what I noticed mostly about Toby was his size. I didn’t realize how big of a guy he actually is. He was definitely the biggest RB on the roster and looks to have a bright future.
Also in the backfield was rookie FB Ryan D’Imperio. After each practice some of the ballboys were in charge of collecting the jerseys. You would have to separate the purple and white jerseys along with making sure they aren’t flipped inside out. Whenever I was in charge of collecting the jerseys, Ryan always wondered why each player made us stick our arms inside their sweaty jerseys to get them right side in, so he would always flip his for us. Thanks Ryan! Each ballboy appreciated that.
Albert Young seemed to have a very good training camp, as he wants to continue to build on what he did on the field in his limited work last year. Every player was very friendly to all of us ballboys, although some of the friendliest were RB Adrian Peterson and DBs Asher Allen, Benny Sapp and Eric Frampton. WR Taye Biddle was very friendly as well, as he would give us his daily life lessons. TE Visanthe Shiancoe and DE Brian Robison always stand out as well as each of the LBs.
For the 2nd consecutive year I was assigned to work with the LBs during practice. I was extremely happy about this because they are a great group of guys to work with and most of them remembered me from the year before (as well as seeing them at the home games.) LBs coach Fred Pagac does an amazing job with each player and is always filled with energy.
Normally the Vikings will have 2 practices per day – one around 9:00 a.m. and another around 3:00 p.m., which is normally a bit shorter. During these days all the ballboys have to be in the equipment room at 7:00 a.m. to start folding towels. Even with around 12 to 13 ballboys this year, the folding took about an hour, so you can imagine how many towels each player and coach uses. At around 8:00 a.m. we would head outside and set up for the morning practice. For the practice, I would normally help out shagging punts and kicks. When the players would stretch I would ask coach Pug how he wanted the individual drills set up. During individuals each ballboy assists the position they were assigned to. This was a lot of fun for myself since all the LBs were always in a good mood, joking around often. Chad Greenway would make sure to give me a tough time, but I made sure he never got the best of me. After individuals I normally was able to watch practice from the sideline while helping out every once in awhile when something was needed.
After practice, the jerseys were collected. Once that was done, the main job was to make sure the locker room stayed clean by picking up towels as well as the players’ dirty clothes. Once every player left, the jerseys and clothes were washed and dried and we would put each one back in its respective locker. After we got back from lunch, the same routine would be done again.
One of the best practices of the camp came on the 1st Saturday. That practice was done in the stadium under the lights. The crowd was completely filled and everyone was ready for the Vikings season to get started. The practice went well, with S Husain Abdullah and LB Erin Henderson each recording an INT. After practice, each player on the team was introduced.
Throughout the rest of camp I thought LB Jasper Brinkley, DT LeTroy Guion and WR Logan Payne excelled.
During the last practice of camp the team did a short walk through of plays. Each player seemed to have a good time during camp but was also very happy to be able to leave and sleep in their own bed. One of the sad parts is that some of the players that were very nice throughout camp will not make the team. At least I will get to be around all the players for their final 2 preseason games before the final roster is set.
For the 3rd straight year I had an extremely good time. This camp was only 2 weeks and went by very fast. I am hoping this will not be my last training camp, since I will be going to college the year after this. If it happens to be the last, I know I had a great time and will have an even better time being at all the home games for a team that could go very far in the playoffs once again.
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