Beavers trying to ‘build the dam’

Minot State football concludes first fall practice under Aldrich

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State's offensive and defensive lines prepare for a snap at a college football practice Thursday in Minot.

When new Minot State football coach Mike Aldrich logs onto Twitter, he regularly uses two different hashtags in his tweets in reference to his team.

The first is #buildthedam, and he’ll occasionally toss out the hashtag #stickbystick right next to it.

Aldrich’s second hashtag of choice often refers to a quality he wants to install in his players: #grit.

“We like to use them both,” Aldrich said. “Building the dam is a sign of a work in progress. Grit is a characteristic we want all these guys to have. So, I think they’re both pretty necessary descriptors of who we are. I don’t know if there’s any one catchy tag that will showcase what this team is about, but I want them to have grit and be going forward.”

Inventing new, trendy social media hashtags isn’t going to suddenly morph the Beavers into Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference juggernauts. But, Aldrich and the rest of the coaching staff’s Twitter use does symbolize a newfound sense of optimism that frankly, MSU has not had around its football program in a long time.

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State freshman wide receiver Demond Short (87) returns a punt while senior safety Bryce Broome (38) closes the gap during a college football practice Thursday in Minot.

This rejuvenation was felt by veterans and freshmen alike when MSU opened fall camp Thursday. Perhaps no player was more energized than senior safety Bryce Broome, an instrumental cog in the Beavers’ defense.

“There’s just an amazing atmosphere around the team right now,” Broome said. “Everybody is excited, the new guys are coming in with a good mindset and are ready to work. It’s unbelievable what a change can do for a program and team chemistry. So far, it’s been for the better.

“All of us are becoming a family again. We view each other as brothers, and we’re going to compete for one another. Everybody is having fun playing football again.”

That’s not to say everything is sunshine and rainbows for the Beavers. MSU was picked to finish 14th of 16th in the NSIC preseason coaches poll, the quarterback and running back positions are anything but set in stone and players will need to be taught a brand new scheme by the season opener on Aug. 31.

Yet, there’s more positive feelings than negative going around Beavers’ camp at the moment. Especially for Aldrich, who has finally been given another opportunity to be a head coach since a three-year stint at Augustana University from 2010 to 2012. Aldrich went 22-13 in his three seasons with the Vikings.

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State sophomore wide receiver Lane Torgerson catches a pass during a drill at a college football practice Thursday in Minot.

“It’s really nice right now being on this field,” Aldrich said before practice. “There’s a lot of planning that all goes into this, but (on Thursday) I finally got to take a deep breath and do exactly what I love. And that’s coaching football.”

Thursday was a breath of fresh air for the new face of the Beavers, but he hasn’t lost sight of his long-term goal for Minot State.

“I talk about this quite a bit with the team, but (MSU athletic director) Andy Carter hired me for two reasons,” Aldrich said. “One was to win games, the other was to change the culture. The culture part is always changing, so it’s nice to get these 40 newcomers in because they’re going to help drive the change.

“They don’t know anything else, it’s all new to them. But the older guys it’s a little bit harder to get the change in because there’s a mix of guys that want change and another mix that don’t want change.”

Aldrich will be the first to tell you that his team is much closer to the start of the rebuilding process than the end. Heck, his word of the day for his players at the end of their first practice was “beginning.”

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State head coach Mike Aldrich, left, goes over a coverage assignment with a few of his players.

But he’s not putting any limitations on his team’s potential for the 2017 season.

“I’d never tell them not to dream big,” Aldrich said. “Not trying to sound like coach speak, but we want to be 1-0 every week. If we put our sights too far ahead of what we want our record or statistics to be, we can too easily fail and not achieve something. But every day from here on out we’re trying to step forward.”

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State offensive line coach Nick Nissen, center, coaches several MSU offensive linemen during a drill