The University of Montana Western Bulldogs announced their football team captains via Twitter on Tuesday.
One tweet, and the internet knew Riley Martello, Hunter Thomsen, Donovan Hucke and Jay Owens would be the Bulldogs’ 2017 captains.
In the age of social media, garnering any kind of attention -- especially during football’s offseason -- is a contrived marketing effort. Teams know building hype and remaining relevant is essential to their brand, and many leverage the platforms to recruit.
And then, there’s Carroll College.
Yes, the Saints, too, are social-media minded. In a lot of ways, Carroll sets the bar for the conference in terms of social engagement.
But when it comes to choosing team captains, coach Mike Van Diest doesn’t leave summer’s temptation to chance. Unless the Saints have recently altered philosophies, fans won’t be seeing a tweet to announce Saints captains. Team captains at Carroll will be determined after two-a-days in the fall, giving the team extra time to hash out its next leader.
“I want to wait until the fall because I’ve been on times where they vote on captains in the spring, I’ve played on teams, and that guy wasn’t a very good captain in the summer,” Van Diest said. “He came back and he got benched. Not because he wasn’t a good player, but because he wasn’t a good person. Or maybe they didn’t work out hard in the summer.”
It also gives Van Diest a chance to see how his freshman will vote, though he hesitates reading too much into the mentality of incoming freshman.
“Freshmen probably, in all honesty, I don’t know that they have a right to vote,” Van Diest said. “A lot of times they are just going to vote for the player at their position that they hang around the most.”
Whether or not the vote appears to be thoughtful, Van Diest still gains valuable information from his underclassmen. Each player signs their name to their vote, giving the coach an insight into what his players believe to be a leader.
“If I see a player vote for somebody who probably shouldn’t be a captain, I know it’s a popularity contest,” Van Diest said.
Last year, in a press release on Aug. 20 -- 11 days before their first game -- and via a news story on their athletics website, the Saints announced their captains: Joel Kramer, JT Linder, Jake Konen and Kyle Smith. The players had proven in fall practices they could lead, and inspired some freshman along the way. All four were major contributors during a down season for Carroll.
Van Diest again wants to see which players can prove themselves in the fall.
“A freshman is in here for two and a half weeks and he votes for a guy and he sees something,” Van Diest said. “That guy has made a good impression for that kid. And that kid has a good insight on what a leader should be and he’s going to be captain someday. I get an insight on what he’s thinking. It gives me a lot.”
While the Saints continue to tinker with their two-deep, having wrapped up spring practices last Saturday, the chances for players to exude leadership skills started the moment the final practice ended.
Leading in the spring, summer and fall is the recipe to becoming a captain.
The second phase of that process is now underway.