MAHAFFEY — Among Brandon Overdorff’s tasks in building the Purchase Line football program are creating team unity and tradition.
The coach went back to an old tradition to help build team unity this preseason.
The Red Dragons went away, to the Mahaffey Camp and Conference Center, for the first week of camp.
“It’s pretty nice,” senior Gavin Ewing said. “We get real close out here, away from home and school.”
“We used to do this for over a decade,” Overdorff said. “We went to Living Waters Campground in Uniontown. We wanted to bring back a little tradition when I got hired. We tried to pull it off last year and it didn’t work. It’s definitely something that was on the table that we wanted to accomplish, and we got it accomplished here at Mahaffey.
“The facilities are tremendous. It couldn’t have happened at a better place, and it goes a long way toward building team unity and relationships for these kids that will last a lifetime. You just become closer as a family.”
Overdorff was a star running back at Purchase Line from 1988 to ’90, when coach Ed Dalton started taking his players away to train.
“You hated going there, but (it created) some of my fondest memories, and those of everybody that I played with,” Overdorff said. “You still sit down with the guys you played with, and the first thing you start talking about is training camp at Living Water, so I hope these guys get some of the same memories.
“It’s the best and worst of times, but it’s memories that last a lifetime and relationships that last a lifetime, and you never forget it.”
For a team coming off a difficult season, getting away from outside influences for a week can be especially helpful.
“The walk (uphill to the practice field) is kind of terrible, but the atmosphere is a lot better,” senior Todd Greene said. “It gives us a different look on things.”
“It beats sleeping on the floor of the weight room or in the school,” senior Alec Sunderlin said. “You get to rest up a little bit. But it’s still the same. You’ve got to come out and work every day, and it’s nice having a facility to finally work on. We don’t have to rip up a practice field. We can use theirs and all that. They treat us nice.”
Of course, the players are still together all week, developing a rapport on and off the field.
“We spend all day and night together,” Sunderlin said. “We learn a lot about each other. We finally act like a team through it.
“We’re finally coming together. Before, it was just a bunch of individuals where they just wanted the glory there. Now it’s finally working hard for the glory of the team.”