PUEBLO — In his 13th season at the helm, Thunderwolves head football coach John Wristen knows the 2020 season will be different.
"I don't think anything I've been through prepares you for anything that has gone on," Wristen said. "You have to realize there are a lot of different issues going on. I want to make sure my players have a voice, I hear them and can help support them."
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the push for racial justice in America, being a leader of young men of every background has never been more important.
"Everyone has to jump in and check their egos at the door, make sure we hear each other, and validate each other," Wristen said. "If we do that, we'll be tighter than we could ever be."
Add in the fact that CSU-Pueblo is always contending for a Division II national championship and there are plenty of conversation points when players return to workouts on July 1st.
"We got everyone coming back on offense, we lost six really good players on defense, but we have some young guys waiting their turn so I am excited to see that mixture come together," Wristen said.
With the opener canceled due to NCAA game regulations, the season officially kicks off Sept. 12th against Saginaw Valley State at the Thunderbowl.
"We got a bit of a longer preseason camp so we're going to take it slow, try to teach and try not to all drink at the fire hose at the same time, break it down a little bit," Wristen said.
It will be a bonding experience of unusual proportions for the perennial college football power, and the team is looking forward to the challenge.
"I can't wait to see that again, the synergy we create to be a part of that," Wristen said. "Our expectation is to go to work, put our head down and give it our all if we can do that I think we have a chance," Wristen said.