Bloomsburg University 2021 Football Preview with Coach Sheptock

Photo Credit: PSAC

Bloomsburg Huskies Football Coach Frank Sheptock was hired on December 20th, 2019. 624 days later, Coach Sheptock will finally coach his first game with the Huskies this Saturday, September 4th against Stonehill College. Sheptock is feeling very excited, and says there is a lot of energy around camp going into the season. “I’m feeling very excited. I mean there’s been a lot of energy around camp, you know, there’s been a great deal of anticipation, I believe our team has responded, you know, extremely well. We’re coming off of an outstanding camp, a lot of competitiveness, a lot of energy. I think the team has very much embraced, you know that they’re controlling their attitude and their effort so, you know great deal of anticipation to go up to Stonehill and represent our proud program.”

Sheptock is also a Bloomsburg University alumni. He played linebacker for the Huskies and was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Bloomsburg University Hall of Fame. Coach Sheptock says it is “very humbling” to be head coach at his alma mater. “Very humbling. I’ve had such a tremendous experience here in regards to the people that have had an impact on my life and being able to try to, you know create that for other student athletes, you know is very humbling for me.”

Coach Sheptock says that he is also proud to be back at his alma mater as the head coach, something that was always a lifelong goal for him. “The other thing that I would say Nick is, you know I’m very proud to be able to be the head coach of my alma mater. It’s been a lifelong goal for me, a career goal, destination job, you know that type of thing. And then being able to continue to build on the standard that, you know whether you talk about Coach Redman or Coach Landis who was a national Coach of the Year, Coach Darragh, Coach Hale, you know what a lineage of coaches that have been here and represented this program and lead this program. So I take a great deal of pride of being the next in line and trying to do the best job we can to represent our program.”

After the 2020 football season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coach Sheptock describes the feeling in the locker room as disappointment. “Tremendous disappointment. You know, I think that the players were on edge every time I’m like, ‘Hey we’re having a meeting.’ They were waiting just for the next thing to drop or be canceled, or any of those types of things.”

Despite the cancellations in 2020, Coach says that it taught the team to be resilient. “I believe Nick that we learned about resiliency and we were able to apply that tremendously as we went through some of those constant changes. You know, when the team very much bought into the fact that we can only control what we can, so we worked very hard, we did some things to try to build them team and continue to build the culture of the program. So even though the season was postponed and things got delayed, we still thought we were able to progress mightily in regards to moving the program forward because we were very much able to focus on doing things relationship based. It wasn’t about schemes or any of those types of things, it was about earning trust, earning respect, learning about each other. And I think that’s gone a long way to us being able to have the type of camp that we did because of the way that this football team approaches things. You know, we talk about family and loyalty, and the team has very much embraced that.”

Coach Sheptock will have waited 624 days from the time he was hired to be Bloomsburg’s head football coach to kickoff this Saturday afternoon against Stonehill College. Coach says he feels pressure going into his first year, and says the closer it gets to game day the more nervous he gets. “Oh there’s no doubt. The closer it gets, the more nervous I get. I think that we have definitely high expectations and you’re definitely nervous and the butterflies, those things don’t go away. But very much believe that our team is extremely well prepared, I think you’re gonna see a great brand of Bloomsburg University football.”

Sheptock talks about the youth of the football team, and says the team has a chip on their shoulder. “One of the things you get some of the messages, I was talking with Jim Doyle, you know our play-by-play guy, we were talking about the, how young our football team is and he said, ‘Hey Coach I think this is the youngest team that Bloomsburg has fielded since you were a freshman.’ And I’m like,’ Oh my goodness!’ We’re going back a ways and you know we were a young team then. So some of those types of things. We’re just not sure of how everybody’s going to respond and I think that any time there’s that unknown, it creates some nervousness for you. But we’re going up there, we’re gonna have great confidence, we believe we’re going there with a chip on our shoulder. We have things to prove, you know what Bloomsburg football is and where we’re going, our players are very much up to the challenge of playing our first four out of our first five games on the road.”

One of the first things Coach Sheptock worked on with the players was building relationships. “I thought it was important for me to sit down with every young man and talk to him about him as a person, him as a student athlete, him as a football player. Because, like again, Bloomsburg football has great tradition. So that was something that we wanted to try to, as we talked about the culture of the program, we were just trying to connect with people. And I think that’s what the true definition of when you talk about culture, it’s about connecting with people and relating with people. So I wanted to lay a great foundation there of that. I wanted our players to know that it was up to me to earn their trust, earn their respect. I wanted to learn about them, you know meet them in the cafeteria, talking with them at some of the basketball or wrestling matches that were still going on at that time, you know putting them in their comfort zone so they they would feel good enough coming in my office and say, ‘Hey Coach let’s talk about things.’ Because they knew I was concerned about them as a young man and not just a football player.”

Building relationships and doing non-football related activities are factors that Coach Sheptock says have helped the team become a family. Coach Sheptock is also very proud of his team for the way they have responded going through changes and transitions. “Oh my goodness, like I am so excited with how the team has responded. Because obviously, everything is new. It seems like we are continually going through transition. And the team has responded extremely well, I think that the way that we were trying to approach things about keeping it simple and the relationship-based and let’s have fun playing this, and being that we did a lot of things that were not football related that I think helped build our football team into a strong family. And I think that’s the number one thing. You know, we went through camp Nick, where we only lost one player. We brought 107 players into camp, we ended with 106 players. So I think when you have that type of consistency and that type of stability in your program, you gotta think there’s a great foundation there.”

Starting the season strong and getting better as the season progresses is something that Coach Sheptock is expecting. “I think that the part where we haven’t had spring football and trying to develop some of our younger talent because we haven’t had as many practice opportunities. So I think that you’ll see, hey you want to start the season strong and then get better as you move forward. I think that you’ll definitely see that from our football team. So the only thing that I would be looking for is like, you know, I would like to have another month of practice, or a full spring one of those types of things. But we didn’t control that so, you know we made the most of it, players responded extremely well, but I think that time being on our side, that was a little challenging at times. So a little bit more opportunity to rep, and for players to learn the coaches more, you know because we did have a lot of staff turnover. And I think that them getting used to their new coaches, the more time the better.”

One of Sheptock’s goals for the team this season is beginning to return the program to national prominence, and hold people to high standards. “We talk to our players about returning our program to national prominence. We’re gonna throw it out there and try to hold people to high standards and saying the best is our standard. We believe we want to be a championship program Nick, at first that goes with having a winning season, and then winning the East, winning a playoff game, you know those types of things we talk to our players about because best is the standard. So we talk with them in the class about the best that you can do is be on the Dean’s list, that’s what we’re shooting for. The best that we can be at football is to be the best program in the country. We want to go out there, set a high standard, work towards those things because I believe we have a proud program. We want our program to represent all of the great things that have taken place in the past, and we’re trying to recruit players that come from a championship culture also so they bring that mentality to us as well. You know, we know it’s gonna be, we gotta build our program, we know it’s going to be one game at a time and you know, all of those you know, cliches. But we’re in this thing for the long haul, and we look forward to being a championship program moving forward.”

Besides building a championship program, one of Coach Sheptock’s goals as the head football coach at Bloomsburg University is to make an impact on people’s lives similarly to how his coaches made an impact on his life. “For me Nick, I get an opportunity every day to interact with over 100 players. And when they’re let’s say, my age or a little bit earlier, when people ask them, ‘Who made a difference for your life?’ Or, ‘Who do you think made a big impact on you having success?’ You know, outside of their family I hope they say Frank Sheptock. Because it’s not just about the next forty days, it’s about the next forty years. Dealing some of Coach Collins’ approach to things, baseball program, you know we’re impacting lives here. And you know, our community needs better husbands, better fathers, better men. And I think that’s the number one thing that there’s a great deal of pride when somebody tells you that, ‘Hey, you made a difference for me.’ You know I don’t think there’s a better compliment you can receive. And the more people that are able to say that over the course of the next decade or so, would definitely be at the top of my goal list.”

In 2019, the Bloomsburg Huskies went 5-6. However, Coach Sheptock and the team are feeling confident heading into the season opener against Stonehill College this Saturday, who went 6-4 in 2019. Saturday will mark the beginning of a promising Frank Sheptock era at Bloomsburg University.