In the huddle with the Mason club team
BY ZACH SEAY STAFF WRITER
While some look at Mason as just another school without a football team, all it takes is a trip to the RAC Field every so often to find a student-led group that plays the same physical brand of football that students seem to pine for.
“Honestly, sometimes we don’t get any respect,” said club president Xavier Savannah. “Because it’s a club sport, people are like, ‘Mason doesn’t have a football team,’ but we play full contact and we play at least eight games during the season.”
The team’s association with club sports does not deter them from approaching the game of football like any other program would. As club president, Savannah is in charge of the logistics, from scheduling games in the offseason and planning practices to overseeing items such as uniforms, dues and club budget.
“We travel to different places like Ohio State and Pittsburgh,” said Savannah. “It’s pretty legit, people just don’t see that because of the club sports thing… but we still take it serious[ly] and it’s still competitive.”
In addition to practice and competitions, the team also takes part in strategy sessions that are split up into offense and defense. Both units go over the Xs and Os of their upcoming opponent, from what plays they run to defensive schemes and positioning.
Dues are currently $130 and they cover the costs for the jersey, helmet, shoulder pads, pants and travel for games. This year, Savannah added a player package that included team gear such as hoodies, t-shirts and shorts.
“That’s kind of the one thing that scares people, but when you think about it, a bare minimum helmet costs $250 and shoulder pads cost $180,” said Savannah. “If we made you buy all of that stuff yourself, you’d be at a whole lot more money than our $130.”
Savannah, who plays wide receiver for the team, has been president for nearly three and a half years. Under his leadership, the team has revamped their recruitment strategy and social media, purchased new home and away uniforms and made a stronger effort to get people involved, such as asking them what kind of uniforms they should wear on a certain week.
“That really has helped with people getting more involved and coming to the games,” added Savannah. “Even recruiting more guys, because they see like, ‘oh you all have brand new Adidas uniforms?’ and they want to join the team.”
As a full-contact sport, football is inherently a violent game, so the team has installed a medical protocol to see that all players are fit to participate.
There is an athletic trainer on staff who is at all of their practices and games, and before anyone can do anything football related, they must take an impact test, which is a baseline concussion test. The team recently got new athletic trainers through INOVA, which offers them much more in terms of getting into clinics and MRIs.
To the naysayers, Savannah suggests that they “get over the club sports thing and realize that it’s still football. It’s still contact, we’re still going to compete with other teams.”
“You have to come see us play yourself and determine if you’re going to be like, ‘well I don’t know if I’m going to go,’ because even big schools like Ohio State, their team loses but they still have people show up in the stands,” he said.
For those interested in suiting up with the team, no past experience is needed, but they usually require players to join before the first practice. After dues are paid and all the necessary forms are filled out, you can consider yourself a member of the 40-man team. For more information, you can contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each season starts in the middle of September and concludes in late October. For students and school staff looking for football action on campus, you can catch every home game on Saturdays at the RAC Field.
Their next home game is next season, but keep your eye out for the team practicing on the RAC Field as they make a push for the playoffs.