The switch from supporting cast member to runner of the proverbial show has thrown Dean Pees for a bit of a loop.
"It's been hard," said Pees, the Kent State football team's rookie head coach, with a grin. Pees has served as an assistant at the college level for the past 19 years. "I find myself getting antsy a lot ... I'm trying not to just go in and take over coaching the position, but it's hard at times.
"But I realize my role as a head coach is different. We talk about what we're going to do in staff meetings before each practice, so I just try to watch everything that's going on and lend my expertise in certain situations during practice."
Pees, who led the Golden Flashes through their first spring practice in full pads Wednesday morning at the Kent Field House, admits that he's keeping one eye on KSU's much-maligned defense at all times.
"I'm definitely watching the defense more than the offense. That's what I know best, and everything is new for the players on that side of the ball," said Pees. "Right now, it's hard to evaluate guys talent-wise because we're not sure the players on defense know what they're supposed to be doing.
"The offense is ahead of the defense, but I expected that. It's really too early right now to start judging people."
The Golden Flashes were given Easter weekend off, but will return to practice on Monday. The team's first spring scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m.
Pees put the Flashes through a rigorous winter conditioning program, and he has continued to stress conditioning during spring workouts.
"Coach Pees knows what he has to do to get us motivated and ready to play," said All-American wide receiver Eugene Baker. "He put us through what he called our fourth quarter conditioning program over the winter, to get us in shape to play our best in the fourth quarter. And he wants as many of us to stay on campus this summer as possible to work out as a team."
Pees has made few position changes thus far.
Dan Goodspeed (6-foot-6, 257), a junior and former walk-on from Lake High School, has been switched from tight end to offensive tackle and was taking snaps with the first team on Wednesday. And he delivered a couple impressive pancake blocks downfield.
Also, redshirt sophomore Jason Hupp (6-3, 331) has been moved from defensive to offensive line.
Kent State has announced the following football camp dates:
Dean Pees Football Camp I, June 29 at Kent State; Dean Pees Football Camp II, June 30 at Canton McKinley High School; Bombs Away 7-on-7 Tournament, June 27-28 at Kent State.
For more information, call 330-672-3350.
The No. 5 seed Kent State gymnastics team finished an impressive third at the NCAA Regional Championships last Saturday in Pittsburgh. Penn State won the title with 194.600 points, followed by Ohio State (193.525) and the Flashes (191.475).
Individually, senior Danielle Roman completed her career by placing fifth in the all-around (38.650) and tying for fourth on beam (9.800) and seventh on floor exercise (47.625). Roman was second in the voting for the Northeast Region's Senior Gymnast of the Year award.
Meanwhile, defending regional vault champ Sarah Wolford (senior) took seventh in that event this year (9.700), while freshman Kelly Lovejoy finished eighth on beam (9.725) and sophomore Kristy High recorded a career-best on beam (9.825).
Sophomore Ben Curtis has been named the MAC Pepsi Co-Golfer of the Week.
Curtis tied for 12th individually at the U.S. Collegiate Golf Championship, held last weekend in St. Augustine, Florida. Curtis, playing against a stellar field that included many of the nation's top collegiate golfers, fired the best score of the day when he carded a two-under 70 during Saturday's second round.
Curtis currently ranks third in the MAC with a 72.87 average.
Thursday's baseball game between Kent State and Cleveland State was canceled. The two teams will make up a game rained out earlier this year Monday at Gene Michael Field, and will play the game originally scheduled for Thursday on Monday, April 27 at Euclid Memorial Field.
Kent State will hold the 15th Annual Athletic-Academic Honors Dinner Sunday, April 26, at 5 p.m. in the Ballroom in the Kent Student Center. A total of 116 current varsity student-athletes at the sophomore, junior and senior levels who have maintained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher will be honored.
The event is open to the public, and tickets are $10. Reservations can by made on or before April 22 by calling 330-672-5976, ext. 33.