Student coach assistants vital to Mason football

Sean Speidel | The Chronicle

The quarterback gets the headlines and the coaches get the criticism, but there are many important people on the Mason football team who go unnoticed.

Student coaching assistants (CAs) work behind the scenes helping the program by performing essential tasks that allow the coaches to focus on coaching, and the players to focus on playing. It is not a glamorous job, but these unseen members of the coaching staff are an essential part of the football program.

The coaches and players view the CAs as part of the team. They are expected to be at every practice and game, where they get to bond with the players. Nate Kelly said he is motivated to be a CA due to the relationships he has formed with the players.

“It’s being with the guys, building relationships, and building trust,” Kelly said. “Having fun is what it’s all about.”

While CAs and players have different responsibilities, they are all united by the same ultimate goal. Veteran CA Daniel Wysong said he enjoys the camaraderie with the players as they all hope to leave a legacy on the football program.

“I think we’re viewed as an extended player,” Wysong said. “We’re all here for the same reason, to get a W on Friday night.”

Head football coach Brian Castner starts each practice with music booming from the stadium loudspeakers. Will Murphy is charged with firing up music and said he sees the direct impact his role has in energizing the team, which assures him that he makes a significant impact.

“There are certain songs we play like ‘Sweet Caroline’ that get [Coach Castner] hyped,” Murphy said. “Once he gets hyped, it becomes contagious to all the other coaches and players.”

CAs do not get the glory of playing under the lights, but they have pride in the value they add to the team. The work CAa do helps the players and coaches focus on football. Murphy said being a CA is about aiding the team in any way possible.

“Our impact is just making sure the team can be the best they possibly can,” Murphy said. “Every single play we film, or headset we plug in can help how the team or coaches do their job.”

Running backs coach Alex Beurket works with the CAs to ensure everything runs smoothly. Beurket said he does not know how the team would function without the work the CA’s do, like filming practices or preparing vital equipment.

“Being able to go out on the practice field as a coach and know that everything that I need is already there, and all I have to worry about is coaching is huge,” Beurket said.

The staff of assistants reap the reward of their hard work. A good week at practice and a win on Friday night often comes with a victory dinner provided by the coaching staff. Most importantly, the students feel valued. While many athletic teams use the title of manager, Castner is a firm believer that they deserve respectful recognition and the title of CA.

“We wanted to make sure we gave them a title that spoke volumes about how you respect somebody,” Castner said. “They are treated as one of the coaches.”