Bains Brings New Life to Western; Young coach, squad begin journey at home on Sept. 3
Aug. 25, 2011 (by Matt Smith, "Gunnison Country Times) -- The word of the day at practice on Monday afternoon was tempo.
First year Western State football coach Jas Bains emphasized the point with his own two legs. Meaning, in-between and during many of the drills, he did almost as much moving around and running as his players did.
As the youngest head coach in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) entering the new football season, at 29, energy is one thing Bains has going for him. And his players are beginning to thrive on it.
“What (Bains) brings to the table is that he’s played in this era of football,” said junior running back Germaine Daniels. “He’s not stuck in the ’60s or ’70s like a lot of Joe Paterno type coaches. He knows what it takes today.”
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Bains was still a player himself. He helped Fresno State make it to three consecutive bowl games during his collegiate career, the latest being a win over 18th ranked Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl.
There’s no shortage of youthful exuberance with the new regime in charge of Mountaineer football. Aside from long-time running-backs coach Jeff Williamson, one of just two other returning coaches from last season, Bains is the oldest among those leading the crimson and slate onto the field in 2011.
“One of the most positive things you’ll find from us as a coaching staff is that we bring a lot of energy,” said Bains, who was promoted from his position as defensive and special teams coordinator after the 2010 season. “We’re also able to relate to our players a little bit better than most coaches.”
It was nearly eight months ago that Bains got the nod to become the 20th head coach in the program’s history. Every day since then, it’s been all football all the time for him and his budding staff.
With opening kick-off now just one week away, Bains isn’t prophesying that WSC will win their 20th RMAC title in 2011. What he is more focused on is instituting a cultural change that will act as a step in returning the program to its winning ways of the past.
“In all reality, we were 1-10 last year and haven’t won much in recent years,” said Bains. “One of the biggest things our players need to understand is where this program has been, historically, and where it’s at today.”
Bains went on to say that a key ingredient in turning the tide — which has seen the Mountaineers accumulate eight straight losing seasons, including the past seven with no more than three wins — is carrying a winning mentality.
For example, he explained, during his first year as an assistant coach at Chadron State, the Eagles went 4-6 overall. The next year, with the same coaches and the same players, they won the RMAC championship.
“When you haven’t had that success in recent years, it can be tough,” said Bains. “But the players bought in and they worked every day to improve.”
“The coaches have high expectations of us every day and if we get to slacking they let us know it,” said Ryan Walstrom, a returning senior. “They’re trying to change the atmosphere and it’s happening, but we have to continue that every day, whether it’s in practice or in a game.”
The Mountaineers will also be young in terms of player personnel. With just 14 returning starters on both sides of the ball, a number of true freshmen and new players to the program will get their shot on Saturdays to come.
Their first chance to make a statement comes in Mountaineer Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 3, when WSC hosts Angelo State in a non-conference game slated for 1 p.m. As part of a national Take a Kid to the Game promotion, kids get in free and parents will be offered half-price tickets.