Steve Laqua, new head football coach, is coaching his team both on and off the field.
Beginning as a graduate assistant at NDSU in 2002, Laqua eventually coached the Shanley High School football team in Fargo from 2007 to 2010. However, he knew he wanted to get back in the college game. Laqua was encouraged to look at the position at MSUM. With five children all under the age of 8 and a wife at home, he felt the move was right for his family.
After winning their homecoming game Saturday against Minnesota-Crookston, MSUM is 2-2.
“It felt really good to win again,” said Logan Werlinger, the Dragons’ 22-year-old defensive back. “The team morale is a little different. People aren’t so quick to give up.”
Werlinger said the team was very welcoming to the new coach, though there are definite changes in the way the team is run.
“I think it’s just how you approach practice everyday,” said Laqua. “Maybe the biggest one that caught them off guard, you know, if there’s a player, or coach for that matter, that swears on the practice field, it’s five pushups.On the surface, it’s obviously for better language and what not. The big picture of it is, you know what the rule is, you’ve got to follow the rule, and if you’re not going to follow the rule, then you have to hold yourself accountable.”
The MSUM football team is not the only group to experience the unique coaching style that Laqua employs. Isaac Olson, a 21-year-old MSUM senior, played football at Shanley High School in Fargo while Laqua coached there.
“He’s a hard-hat and lunch pail kind of coach,” Olson said. “He doesn’t do it for the big bucks. He coaches because he loves football.”
Laqua said one of the biggest challenges for the current season is the health of the team. Because the team doesn’t have very large numbers, any injury greatly affects them. Coach Laqua has had to juggle some players around to compensate for injured ones.
Laqua, Werlinger and Olson all have high hopes for the future of Dragon football. Werlinger said though getting used to the new coaching style has been a challenge, long term there is potential to return to being a conference championship-winning team.
Though his coaching career spans less than a decade, Laqua brings a new attitude and a new philosophy to both Moorhead’s football team and the campus for his players.
“If your buddy is standing next to you and he hears you swear, if he can’t hold you accountable to do your pushups and call you out, well then he’s not going to do that on the field, in the classroom, on a Saturday night,” Laqua said. “We’re not going to make it anywhere if we can’t hold ourselves and hold each other accountable. Then we are just going to keep swimming around in mediocrity.
BY KAITLYN TESKE