A year ago, Mark Ainsley was not only the new head football coach at Holy Trinity but a new teacher and a new Brevard County resident.
“The big thing was, I’m learning the school,” he said. “It’s just a total feeling-out process.”
This August, he is established in his classroom and in the community, and the Tigers football program has begun to take shape the way he would like.
One of his earliest moves was to again play a spring game. It was something his incoming seniors told him they had never done. John Carroll defeated the Tigers 14-0, but he came away with a teaching tool he didn’t have a year ago.
“Even though we didn’t play very well, it’s a stepping stone,” Ainsley said. “To have that game, we have something on tape we can show to the players.”
That may have had nothing to do with it, but his returning players took on the attitude of improving themselves before this season.
“I think it’s the group of kids, just the way they are,” he said. “We averaged almost 25 kids in a weight room, and we went five days a week. Last year, it was about nine kids.”
Physically, those Tigers should be improved when the first game is played in 2012, but Ainsley expects more because of the time spent working out together.
“We’ve got 18 or 19 kids that will ride and die for each other,” he said. “They’re already challenging each other in practice. I think you’re going to see kids that flat-out play harder as a team.”
Having that base of participation has already improved the numbers for the program. The Tigers started last season with 21 players and quickly dropped to 18 due to injuries. That meant no full scrimmaging in practice.
This week, 34 started and the group is now 30. He expects about 32 in uniform for the season opener. The future looks brighter, too. There was one freshman player last year; this year, there are nine.
“You’re looking at real building blocks,” Ainsley said, “of kids wanting to do it.”
2012 Tigers schedule
2012 Tigers schedule
Aug. 31at Father Lopez
Sep. 7at Orangewood Christian
Sep. 14at Master’s Academy
Sep. 21TRINITY PREP
Sep. 28TRINITY CHRISTIAN
Oct. 5at St. John Neumann
Oct. 12at Vanguard
Oct. 19FIRST ACADEMY
Nov. 2at Melbourne CC
Nov. 9JUPITER CHRISTIAN