Move-in weekend is a blur of packing too many boxes in cars that seem too small and hoping it all makes it into a dorm room in one piece. Between move-in traffic and hordes of families in residence halls, freshman find themselves falling abruptly into this new part of their lives, rather than entering it gracefully.

Instead of getting lost in the impending chaos that is move-in weekend, freshman football players enjoyed moving into their summer residences with their fellow teammates on June 12 for the football “bridge” program. The early move offers many advantages to the new additions, easing their college transition and acclimation to campus life.

Most of the freshman football players moved in early, participated in practices and took classes — a requisite to live on campus as stipulated by the NCAA, according to head football coach Rich Skrosky. The athletes lived in the Global neighborhood during Summer Sessions I and II before moving into their permanent fall assignments in early August, most of which are located in the Danieley neighborhood.

Skrosky remarked that this program is “one of the best things we do as a university,” as it offers the new students a way to adjust to both Elon academic and athletic life before the pressures of fall camp and fall semester set in.

“They’re in our conditioning program, they’re with our strength coaches so that when the camp comes, they’ve been here — it’s not culture shock to them," Skrosky said. "Academically, socially and athletically, it really bridges them to this camp and then, when school starts, they know where the classes are, they know where the dorms are, they know where academic support is. It makes that transition a lot easier.”

Freshman wide receiver Cole Taylor enjoyed his move and the time he spent with his teammates. He didn't mind that there were few other students on campus anyway.

“It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be, you know, being around people that like to work,” Taylor said. “We’re all kind of working toward the same goals, so it was pretty easy, and I’m having a good time with them.”

The summer isn't easy. With six credits' worth of classes, workouts and practices — sometimes even two-a-days — in North Carolina heat, these athletes must still attend all orientation events and any practices they may have. But being on campus early afforded them early orientation materials beforehand, too.

“We had plenty of orientation, and our academic advisers got us situated with classes and how our school year is going to be,” said freshman defensive lineman Marcus Willoughby. “We still have to do orientation classes but still have practices. Probably at night, too.”

Residence Life had a hand in ensuring that all new fall athletes — not just the football players — were able to take part in orientation activities and bond with their classmates.

“They’re participating in activities just like everybody else during orientation weekend,” said Senior Associate Director of Residence Life MarQuita Barker. “I think the university has been intentional in making sure they still have that process, so from my understanding, they’re still going to the hall meetings and other meetings during orientation weekend, like everybody else. They just don’t check into their neighborhoods on Friday because they’re already here.”

Skrosky has high hopes for this year’s new football additions, noting that they are “really the nucleus of how this program is going to go” for the next four years.

“Schools around the country have this bridge program because they know that, if the athletes get off to a good start, they’re generally going to be okay," Skrosky said. "That’s really our focus. If the freshmen get off to a good start, they usually end up being in good shape the rest of the way.”

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