To start off, here's a quick introduction: my name is Conner Orr and I am a senior accounting major and a tight end on the Western Carolina football team. I currently have only four more classes to complete, along with a semester long internship in the spring before I graduate in May, 2013. My internship will be as an auditor on a team at Grant Thornton in Atlanta. It's an incredible opportunity that I can't wait to learn from.
As a student-athlete, my story at WCU is a little more complicated than most. During my freshman year in 2009, I was utilized as a blocking tight end/H back. I was very proud to be able to contribute to the team and was looking forward to my sophomore season. During the spring semester and early summer following my freshman year, I began to experience pain in my lower back. While on a mission trip in South Africa later that summer, my back finally went out. While I was walking to the plane to head back to the States, my leg started to drag behind me... not exactly the best situation to be in when I still had an 18 hour flight ahead of me!
When I returned home and was able to go to the doctor, I found out that I had a few herniated disks in my back that needed to be addressed as soon as possible. After talking it over with my parents, I decided to try and avoid surgery temporarily in hopes of being able to return to football in the fall.
Making a long story short, surgery was the inevitable answer to my back problems in the summer of 2011. However, after a year of physical therapy and workouts, I am officially back in action and with great timing, too...cue the new coaching staff!
Our new coaches has been the talk of small town Cullowhee for months. As we eagerly anticipated their arrival, we couldn't begin to imagine what they had in store for us. The coaches debuted their style of football to the team during winter gym in 2011. Winter gym was a true grind. We learned that the coaches' style of football was more intense and high speed than anything we had experienced before. After completing winter gym and spring football, we knew that by the fall we would be the most conditioned team in the SoCon.
I am sure most of you know that we began fall camp the first week of August. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first two days of camp in order to represent WCU's chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (international business honors society) in a national meeting held in Baltimore. I have been playing a little catch-up for the past few days, but I believe I am on track with the rest of the team now. My experience with fall camp can easily be described with the same words as winter gym and spring ball: intense and high speed. The best description of how it feels to be a football player in camp is having your legs feel like shattered glass. Sounds great right?
This coaching staff knows how tough the practices are, but they show so much excitement when we succeed that it makes the grind worth it. For example, if I make a great down block, my tight end coach - Pat Mills - will run down the field to congratulate me before I even have a chance to turn around. These guys have so much energy and provide so much support that they are instantly able to make your hard work pay off.
Coach Speir repeatedly reminds us that our hard work is creating deposits that will be withdrawn this coming season. I will share some more information on some of the new players that have been standing out in camp as soon as I find a little more time in our busy schedule.