By Nathan Summers
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Ruffin McNeill always refers to his football players as his sons, but when he comes back from a trip to Jamaica this weekend, the East Carolina head coach will have taken on a different kind of son — the kind with “in-law” at the end.
While the extended family of his Pirate football team is under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors for the balance of the summer, the fourth-year ECU football coach is on his way to the Caribbean to watch his oldest daughter, Renata, tie the knot.
“It’s not too much of a vacation, but it’s my first wedding (for one of his children) so I’m a little nervous,” McNeill said of the trip, which he said will be a quick one that will have him back in his office by Monday.
Needless to say, McNeill didn’t make the courtship or the proposal easy on his daughter’s fiance.
“He’s a great guy, and he’s been through the ringer with me,” McNeill said. “He’s hung in there.”
Hanging in there included abiding by the coach’s insistence that the groom formally ask McNeill permission for his daughter’s hand. In fact, McNeill said that was the “only way” he would have allowed the wedding, which takes place on Saturday.
As the coach described it, his campaign of scare tactics against potential male suitors for his two daughters had a limited effect this time.
“I run them off and I’ve been trying to run them off,” said McNeill, who in addition to Renata, 32, also has a 23-year-old daughter named Olivia. “He came back and met me after I scared him. He’s a great guy and he loves Renata.”
Meanwhile, McNeill’s Pirates are a month removed from spring practice, and many of them are balancing summer classes with the rigors of the Connors offseason program.
Just having the players in the presence of Connors seems to be comforting enough for McNeill to enjoy his time away from them.
“Jeff is absolutely at the top of his profession, so I know they’re getting trained in a very intense and very professional manner,” said McNeill, whose team finished 8-5 last season. “The kids are already in summer school, and the (2013) recruits will join them for the second session in June, so the whole group should be up here by then.”
After conditioning is complete, players will move on to voluntary mid-summer workouts without coaches and then dive headlong into preseason camp in August.
That means a new season is already imminent in terms of training and preparation.
“The key now is the core leaders of the group stepping up,” McNeill said. “This is a group that has great team chemistry. They’re not working for themselves, but working for each other and not being selfish.”
Contact Nathan Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.