I entered Liberty University’s practice stadium Thursday morning in awe, looking around with curiosity about what actually “goes down” on “The Mountain.”
As I walked down to the field, I saw players preparing for practice that was set to begin at 9 am. The walk was very long, and while I was walking, I thought, “How do wide receivers run this entire field without losing their breath with a successful pass?” I don’t think that is something I’d like to figure out.
I met Todd Wetmore, the Associate Athletic Director for Communications (for Liberty Athletics), and he gave me my press credentials (pass) as I introduced myself. He gave me a red Liberty Flames lanyard with a card attached to it that said “Welcome to The Mountain: Press Credentials (Practice Only). I couldn’t believe I was finally covering Liberty’s sports after being a resident of Lynchburg for two years. I moved here a few months after COVID started. Throughout my time here, I’ve faced hardships as an aspiring sports professional. I had been trying to “get my foot in the door” with Liberty since 2020. After many unsuccessful attempts, I figured that I was not meant to live here at all, and I needed to move. But God had other plans….
I spoke with Wetmore and picked his brain about his journey of becoming a part of the athletic staff. He mentioned that he is a former student of Liberty and has been working with the university since 1998. His father, Paul Wetmore, was the softball coach at Liberty for 20 years. Paul helped “reshape” and “define” the softball program and made huge strides in doing so.
When asking Todd about Liberty’s practice field and campus, he added that the well-known university is the fastest growing Division I school in the country. Todd said that getting new facilities and financial support has been a positive experience and a “huge blessing.”
So here’s the fun part…
While conversing with Todd, I asked him what he thought about the team’s offensive transition now that former Quarterback Malik Willis is now in the NFL. He proudly stated, “Coach Freeze is an offensive mastermind.” At that moment, I wondered, “What does Freeze have up his sleeve for this season?”
To get more background information, I also had a chance to speak with Damien Sordelett (News and Advance) and Jon Manson (a local resident who created a sports blog and website dedicated to Liberty Athletics).
Sordelett, who has been at the News and Advance since 2015, mentioned that the Flames have a tougher schedule this year. “He (Coach Freeze) has a diverse playbook and game plans available for any type of quarterback.”
He said that his favorite memory of working with the Flames has to be the 2020 Cure Bowl. “The game lived up to everything Liberty represents.” He described the televised game having 2.6 million viewers. The nail-biting, action-packed game against Coastal Carolina went into overtime.
Also, I had the opportunity to speak with former Liberty student Jon Manson, who created a blog for Liberty football, men’s basketball, and baseball that has become very popular in the last few years. He graduated from the University in 2006 and was very articulate in describing the transition into having a new quarterback this year. “There are four guys competing for quarterback.” Redshirt Senior Charlie Brewer from Utah and Baylor, and Tennesse native Kaidon Salter (redshirt freshman) are amongst the few that are working hard at becoming the starter for this upcoming season.
The Flames will face Virginia Tech and BYU at home this year as two of the program history’s biggest matchups. Also, they will face Arkansas and Wake Forest on the road.
“Old school” music such as Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Let’s Groove, and “Bad Gal RiRi’s” (Rihanna) song “Umbrella,” could be heard playing through the stadium as players ran back and forth doing different drills that focused on footwork techniques.
Once again, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched how agile the wide receivers and defensive backs were at the practiced running routes with their red and white jerseys. Kickers practiced their long field-goal attempts and it made me think of the long walk I had down to the field. I’m still not trying to figure out how they do that.
The best thing that made my day about this practice was assistant coach Cullen Casey’s fist bumps and his heartwarming words, “Have a good day,” was enough to get me pumped up and excited to be able to cover Liberty football this season.
I’m definitely looking forward to what this organization and the reputable university have to offer.
- NCAAFNovember 30, 2022Flames drop last regular season game 49-14 against New Mexico State
- FootballNovember 22, 2022Liberty Flames fall to Virginia Tech 23-22 at home
- FootballNovember 15, 2022Liberty Flames Six-Game Winning Streak Comes to an End Against UConn
- AAC FootballNovember 8, 2022The Liberty Flames Defeat SEC Opponent Arkansas on the Road, 21-19