Small Changes Big Impact?


War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo.

Growing up in Hawaii the high schools sport and those played at University of Hawaii at Manoa always took center stage. That is something my home state and Wyoming have in common — despite a plethora of differences.

Similar to Hawaii, Wyoming only has one university. Everyone is cheering for the same team. It’s not like where I went to school in Michigan where neighbors may not speak to each other due to the college flag hanging off their front porch.

University of Wyoming football is coming off a tough season. The Cowboys went 2-10 finishing sixth in the Mountain Division. In the Mountain West Conference, only the University of Hawaii played worse having zero wins, and UNLV and Fresno State in the West Division had the same conference record.

I went to four UW games this past season, all of which they lost, and the thing I noticed as time went on was that attendance went down and the stadium started clearing out earlier and earlier.

The 2016 college football season starts up in seven months and the Cowboys will have a lot to prove. Head coach Craig Bohl enters his third season with the Cowboys and he’s got a lot riding on this season. Everyone would like to see improvement.

There are several things that go into making a program successful. One of those is the strength and conditioning staff.

On Thursday, UW announced the hiring of a new Director of Sports Performance Russell Dennison. Dennison comes from the University of Oklahoma where he has been the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the past five years. A former Sooner football player himself, a fullback from 2002-2005, he brings a lot to the table.

Dennison was responsible for designing speed, strength and conditioning programs for the OU football team. A friend of mine who recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and used to train with Sooner football had nothing but praise for Dennison, but did mention his focus on running. The Big 12 Conference is known for its speed, known for its offense, so it will be interesting to see the different dynamics Dennison can bring to the table.

I want to highlight and focus in on the “CAN” and not necessarily the “WILL.” The reason I say “CAN” is because much of Dennison’s success lies on the football coaching staff’s shoulders. Will they allow him to run the type of program that he thinks will be best? Is a speed-focused program what will be best for the Cowboys? Will Dennison and Bohl see eye to eye?

I’m sure Dennison has done his research and has an idea for the program and I’m excited to see if he will remain speed focused or take a more weight-room approach.

“Tell your brother to get ready for a lot of running and not so much weight lifting,” said my friend.

Sizewise Oklahoma is bigger than Wyoming. The Sooners’ have fewer players standing under 6 feet and more players standing over 6 foot, 5 inches. Oklahoma’s roster weighs an average of 65 pounds more than Wyoming’s. So my question becomes do smaller teams need more speed or more size? Sacrificing speed for size is never the answer.

I’m excited to see what Dennison can add to the program and I look forward to seeing an improved Cowboy team come August. The question is, just how much of an impact can a change in the strength and conditioning staff have?

Disclaimer: I am the sister of University of Wyoming sophomore linebacker/nickel Tim Kamana.