By Grayson Mays
The University of Mississippi added a new club sport in the fall of 2019. The club is not yet very well known because most people cannot believe it is even possible.
Many people probably see or hear the name “Ole Miss Club Football” and assume since the school already has a D1 program in the SEC, this team can only be flag football. However, this is not the case. The new club football team is full contact, full pads, 11 vs. 11. The team is scheduled to play its home games in Oxford at the intramural fields on campus.
Alex Weldon, the team’s president and head coach, said it’s an opportunity for students who are interested in it to take advantage of while in college.
“It offers a very unique opportunity for these players and coaches,” said Weldon, a student from Elizabethtown, Ky. “This program gives the former athletes or even new athletes four more years to compete in a league and for a championship for most likely the last time and while playing the sport they are passionate about.”
This is a league most people have not heard of. Weldon said he started out his freshman year playing on the Ole Miss Club Baseball team, which is more known and successful. He said the “camaraderie” and “fun in playing” improved his first semester at Ole Miss tremendously. After this, he had the idea to look for a football league in which he could form an Ole Miss team to participate.
“It literally just hit me one day that what if they have a league for football, which has always been my passion. I found it and called the league commissioner and haven’t stopped building from there.”
Weldon said his first step was the same for any club. He had to go through ASB (Associated Student Body) and establish the team as an official club associated with Ole Miss.
Recruiting for the team is very hard, according to Weldon. It is very simple to join the team. If anyone wants to walk on, all are accepted and welcomed. However, he says it is very hard to get word out, and at the moment most recruits are connected by word of mouth only.
Cost is also an issue for some, Weldon said. “You have to consider every piece of equipment from helmet to knee pads. And on top of that traveling expenses and field insurance and so on. Fundraising has helped but the biggest contribution comes from selfless players and parents dedicated to helping this program along.”
The Club Football team is a flat fee of $550 to start. If you want slightly upgraded gear, that is also available for purchase through the team’s equipment representative. This is not an outrageous price when compared to other club sports: Baseball is about $250, LAX is $2000, and Hockey is well over $1000.
When talking about the upcoming season Coach Weldon gets very excited. Their conference also has a championship, and Ole Miss has as good a shot as anyone.
Ole Miss’ season starts September 20 versus a prep school in Georgia called Championship Prep Academy.
“We are going to be playing against Columbus State and Middle Georgia State and travel to Fort Lauderdale to play football.”
Weldon said he is expecting big things from his very capable players this season.
“High, high expectations honestly. I’ve seen my guys practice together for about two semesters now and we’re still growing. I’m expecting huge performances weekly from Grayson Mays and Grayson Tuttle on both sides of the ball, as well as a Khalil Mack like performance from D’Andre Wilson. But what I’m expecting the most is honestly watching these guys take a program that they have helped build themselves and watch it grow in front of their eyes.”
To prepare, Coach Weldon has the team practicing three times a week. These practices contain route running, drills, and walkthroughs. All this work now he believes will prepare the team for next season and possibly a chance at the championship. He said no matter what happens he wants to “not slow down for a second.”
Weldon wants more than anything to “keep our heads up and feet moving. I just want to keep trucking through this season and find out what we’re made of and let the program come together.”
What has Weldon enjoyed most of his experiences with the team so far he responded?
“The camaraderie hands down is my favorite part.” He has expectations of his players to grow friendships as well. “I’m expecting my older juniors and seniors to help my younger guys through college and life as much as they can.”
Weldon also has fond memories of his own relationships with his players.
“They might tell you about the yelling I do pretty often or that one player nicknamed me Mad-Dog because I don’t let off these players. But it’s because I see a lot of talent in these guys. My favorite part is getting to see it and meeting the people behind that talent. I’ve made friends every step of the way.”
Weldon is always looking for new players to join this group of guy’s pursuit for a championship win. He gave the club contact information for anyone interested in joining. His pitch to students wanting to continue their time playing football is, “we are a very accessible team to be a part of. We try to make our practice schedule as known as we can and we accept anyone who walks on and wants to play. This is built to create an opportunity for all students, so we try to make that opportunity as easy to find as we can.”
For more information on the club football team visit Ole Miss Club Football or call 502-445-9919.
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