I had the opportunity to take in Friday morning’s practice at Camp Rantoul. For anyone that is a fan, this is an experience I would highly recommend because the level of access you get to the team is amazing to say the least.
Within 3 minutes of being there, WR Coach Bellamy walked by and took the time to stop, flash a smile, shake my hand, say hello, and tell me that it was good to see me there. I’m not sure if this is how it goes at other major university’s training camps, but it’s exactly how it is at Illinois these days.
With a program that’s coming off a two win season that’s trying to gain footing in the B1G, as well as with the fan base, it’s important for these types of interactions to take place. Even more importantly, though, is when these interactions happen with children.
As the roughly 2 hour morning practice wrapped up and players were heading for the cold tubs, there was a line of kids from a local daycare standing in wait along the ropes meant to separate the public from the players and coaches. Every single player and coach walking by greeted each of those kids with some jokes, kind words, a high five, or fist bump, and undoubtedly created an Illini fan for life in the process.