ORONO, Maine — Head coach Jack Cosgrove wants the title of team captain to be the most coveted honor for a University of Maine football player.
It will be bestowed only on those Black Bears who demonstrate the most consistent and effective leadership during the season.
For that reason, Cosgrove and his staff have altered the way captains are chosen.
This season, for the first time in his 18 seasons leading the program, UMaine will utilize weekly “game captains.” Each Sunday, team members will vote to select the individuals they believe are worthy of fulfilling that responsibility for that week.
“We feel like we’ll continue the educational process toward leadership by making it something that’s an ongoing process all the time,” Cosgrove explained.
“We feel like when you really get down to it, the most important thing that we’re responsible for as coaches is the development of not only the football player but the content of his character, his makeup,” he said. “Leadership qualities are high on my list of how you evaluate somebody.”
Offensive players will select an offensive captain, the defense picks the defensive captain and all players choose the special teams captain.
The inaugural team captains for the Bears are junior tailback Derek Session (offense), senior cornerback Dom Cusano (defense) and senior linebacker/long-snapper Ryan McCrossan (special teams).
Cosgrove came to believe the old system, under which team members selected captains for the season at the end of spring practice, was not an effective method of establishing team leaders.
And Cosgrove blames himself for the ineffectiveness of that system.
“I guess in criticizing what we’ve done in the past, we’ve anointed some guys captain and I’m not sure that the skill continued to develop,” he said. “That’s not because of them, it’s not their fault. It’s more something that the program wasn’t providing for them in terms of leadership and direction from above.”
Now, the hope is players will be able to demonstrate their growth as the season progresses and have the opportunity to experience filling the role as captain.
Cosgrove said it may turn out the player or players are selected as game captains each week. However, he hopes the new process will instead inspire players to leadership.
“If there’s somebody who’s emerging and growing and impacting guys, I think you want that recognized,” Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove said the team’s player council and later the full team voted to support the new system.
“We put it in play and this group of guys was very receptive to it,” he said.
Ultimately, team captains will be elected by UMaine players at the end of the season, after everyone has had an opportunity to compete, as it were, for the honor.
“We want to honor those captains and we want that to be the highest honor that you can receive in Maine football,” Cosgrove said. “It’ll be something we’ll recognize at the end-of-year banquet and something we’ll put a great value on.”
Cosgrove said the process has already begun to produce results.
“I feel like there’s a more powerful entity team-wide in that area. I think our leadership quotient is higher than it’s been in the past with this group,” he said.
UM football ticket prices lower
UMaine football fans have the chance to watch the Black Bears for less this season.
Season tickets are $40 per person for bench seats or $65 for chair-back seats (limited availability). That means fans pay as little as $8 per game.
Those who don’t require a season ticket can a buy a general admission ticket, in advance, for $10. The price goes up to $15 ($20 for chair-backs) on the day of the game.
Youth (age 17 and under) and senior (65 and up) tickets are available for $10 per game when purchased in advance.
Last season, a regular adult season ticket cost $65, which means the price has come down significantly ($25).
“Jack [Cosgrove] had a lot of feedback that people thought ticket prices were too high,” said UMaine Athletic Marketing and Promotions Director Jeff Wildey, who has worked with the UMaine athletics staff to reduce prices in the hope of getting more fans out to games.
“We’re going to be above last year,” Wildey said of football season-ticket sales. “I think we’ll probably have the biggest crowd Thursday night that we’ve had in years.”
UMaine also offers a “family pack,” which will accommodate two adults and three children, for all five games, for $165.
Wildey said season tickets will be available prior to Thursday’s 7 p.m. home opener against Albany. In fact, advance tickets for Thursday’s game may be purchased until 4 p.m.
For future games, advance tickets much be purchased by the Friday prior to the game.
For more information, call the UMaine athletic ticket office at 581-2327 or 1-800-756-8326.