New football coach makes immediate impact

(Photo by Kate Turner)

(Photo by Kate Turner)

In a mere two weeks since being formally introduced as Laurier’s new head coach and manager of football operations, Michael Faulds has already exceeded  expectations.

“People are thinking that we’re rolling the dice … not a chance,” said Peter Baxter, director of athletics and recreation at WLU.

Faulds steps into the position at the young age of 29, with previous coaching experience only as an offensive coordinator with the York Lions for three years. However, despite the lack of coaching credentials on his resume, the work he’s already put in to the program has impressed many people at Laurier.

“One of the things he brings is an energy as well as kind of a background,” Baxter said of Faulds, who on top of being the head coach will also take over the position of offensive coordinator. “I’m excited about it, but I think our alumni and our fans are really excited about it.”

And with that energy, Faulds begins his reconstruction with a young team, hoping to get the Hawks back on track after a tough 2012 season.

“It’s been a hectic, busy couple of weeks,” Faulds said from his new office in Laurier football’s Claussen House. “The first week, I’d say it was a lot more meeting with people … but this week I’ve felt like I’ve had a lot more office time. I’ve been able to sit here and do more football-related things, which has been good.

“Each day I become more comfortable and feel more at home and each week it’ll be that much easier.”

Faulds has already had two meetings with the offensive line and two practices with the entire Golden Hawk team. His meetings allow him to go over the new plays, then the following day he installs them.

Baxter said that in Faulds’ first year as offensive coordinator at York, he implemented Western’s offence — an offence he was familiar with from his own career as a player. But last year, he used his own offence that he made for his players.

Much of the same will occur at Laurier, where he will implement an offence he is familiar and successful with.

“In terms of things that are changing, we’re a no-huddle offence, so that’s different from last year’s offence,” Faulds said. “Everything we do has the whole offence very involved. It doesn’t matter if you’re a third-string [offensive] lineman, the starting quarterback or a back-up running back, every part of the offence is really involved.”

As well as his enforcement on the field, Faulds has also emphasized the responsibility each player has in the classroom. “What I’m doing is I’m meeting with the players on an individual basis and as a group to get their academics in order,” he said. “We have a few [players] right now at risk of being on probation or they currently are on academic probation and it’s just about time management and being accountable to the rest of the team.

“If a player is ineligible because of academics, he’s accountable to the other guys.”

Offence will be one of Faulds’ main priorities, as last year the Hawks failed to score a touchdown in the last month of the season and averaged 13.6 points a game. Faulds taking over as offensive coordinator also results in the end of Ryan Pyear’s 11-year tenure, starting right after his graduation from WLU in 2005.

“I think he’s done the best that he could and has made a great contribution to Laurier football,” Baxter said of Pyear. “If he sees this as part of his journey and learning as a coach, he’ll take that wherever he lands [and] he’ll be successful.”

With seven months until the 2013 football season begins, Faulds’ main focus will be increasing the motivation on the team throughout the off-season.

“I warned the players,” he said. “We can go anywhere from 0-8 to 8-0. It’s kind of how much effort we put into it [that] is going to solidify our spot in the OUA.”

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