LEBANON — New seems to be a recurring theme with the McKendree University football program. In addition to the hiring of new head coach Mike Babcock along with three new full-time assistant coaches, the program will utilize graduate assistant coaches for the first time during the 2013 season.
Babcock is pleased to have the added help on the Bearcats' coaching staff for the upcoming season. "It's extremely important to have graduate assistants in your program," said Babcock. "Instead of having two full-time coaches on each side of the ball, (having graduate assistants) gives you the ability to add two more guys on each side who are hungry to prove themselves in the coaching profession. We've been blessed to bring these young men into our program, and you can see the impressions they have left already."
Brendan Carter was the first graduate assistant hired by Babcock and was highly involved in spring practice for the new staff. Carter, who will coach wide receivers for McKendree, spent the 2012 season as an offensive intern in his hometown at the University of San Diego. He served in a variety of roles on the Toreros' staff, and helped the team to a Pioneer Football League championship last season.
Prior to that, Carter was a student coach for his alma mater at Missouri Valley College. Carter assisted with the Vikings' wide receivers. He played two years at Missouri Valley, and averaged 10 yards per reception as a senior. Carter graduated from Missouri Valley in with a bachelor's degree in physical education.
"Brendan is a West Coast guy who gained some valuable experience last year at San Diego," said Babcock, who -- like Carter -- is another California native. "He has been a great influence on our passing game here at McKendree. His X's and O's are very good and I think he can bring a new dimension especially when it comes to recruiting in California and his knowledge of the western region."
Where Carter helps McKendree with his West Coast ties, Kenny Treschitta brings an East Coast influence to the Bearcats' program. Treschitta, a native of Connecticut, played four years of college football at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was a two-year starter in the Cardinals' defensive backfield.
From there, he moved on to the coaching world, serving as the running backs and defensive backs coach at Fairfield Warde High School in his home state. Treschitta is a 2009 graduate of Catholic University with a degree in history and education. He will tutor the Bearcats' defensive linemen.
"Kenny comes from the East Coast and gives us another perspective," said Babcock. "He is one of those guys who will roll his sleeves up and do whatever it takes to get the job done, with a 'yes sir' kind of attitude. He has a little more experience than some of our other GA's and really hit the ground running here at McKendree. Kenny came in right before spring practice and literally the next day was out there with (assistant) Coach (Steve) Barrows coaching up the entire defensive line. He has taken to Coach Barrow's philosophy and style and has grown in that short period of time."
Joshua Boulware took a slightly different route in arriving at McKendree. After his high school playing days, Boulware attended Florida State University but also became an assistant coach at James S. Rickards High Schools, where he served as a wide receivers/tight end coach as well as return team coordinator. That experience led to a role as a student assistant coach at Florida State, where he assisted with the defensive line.
After graduating from Florida State in December 2011, Boulware moved on to the football program at the United States Coast Guard Academy. He coached the outside linebackers and helped with the special teams unit. In addition, Boulware served as the co-video coordinator. He will help coach the defensive backs here at McKendree.
"Joshua is from Florida, which is another recruiting hotbed," said Babcock. "What I like about Joshua is that he came from Florida State and has developed that (NCAA) Division I mentality. He worked as an intern in the program so he has seen the attention to every detail and the little things that can make or break a successful program. He did a good job last year with the Coast Guard, and has already been a positive influence here at McKendree."
The newest graduate assistant for the McKendree staff is Eric Bergman. He the lone Illinois native among the Bearcats' graduate assistant staff as he hails from Elk Grove Village near Chicago. Bergman just wrapped up a four-year playing career at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He was a two-year starter along the offensive line for the Salukis and helped the program to consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships. Bergman, who graduate from SIU-Carbondale in the spring with a degree in sports administration, will look to bring the knowledge gained in his playing career in his new role as the Bearcats' offensive line coach.
"Eric is a very promising young coach," said Bergman. "Being a former player of that position is a plus because he can relate to what the (McKendree) players are going through. Eric has only been here for a short time but has been very professional and works hard. You can tell he picked up a lot from his playing days and it is translating into what he is trying to teach our guys here...he brings a different dimension. I also love the fact that he is an Illinois guy which will help us when it comes to recruiting."
Babcock has been pleased with the overall efforts of Bearcats' graduate assistants. He feels that they have integrated well within the University and bring other intangibles that are not necessarily evident to the casual observer.
"They have been a tremendous help every step of the way so far," said Babcock. "They have all come in at different times, but each has jumped into the mix right away and have made an impact on our program. Our GA's have all brought a different energy and enthusiasm to the McKendree football program, and I think some of that has started to rub off on the players and other coaches as well."
McKendree will kick off its 2013 season on Saturday, Sept. 7 with a home game against Tiffin University. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m., with pre-game festivities beginning at 1:15 p.m.