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University of Manitoba Bisons head coach Brian Dobie walks the sideline during CIS football action against the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Fri., Aug. 30, 2013 at Investors Group Field.

University of Manitoba Bisons head coach Brian Dobie walks the sideline during CIS football action against the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Fri., Aug. 30, 2013 at Investors Group Field.

Friday night lights

Bison Football's new era

September 12, 2013 — 

It’s hard to beat Coach Brian Dobie’s enthusiasm for his football team. “It was a historic day,” he says about August 16, the inaugural day of Bison Football training camp at the new Investors Group Field. “Another historic day was getting onto that field for our first home game on Friday, August 30.”

He still sounds slightly incredulous about the new stadium facilities. “For the first time in my 39 years of coaching, we had an evening game under the lights!” Cheered on by the nearly 10,000 fans, the team took their competitors, the Alberta Golden Bears, for a win of 65-41. Last week, the team lost a close game to the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Asked to characterize this year’s team, Dobie remarks on their “great attitude.” “They all showed up here 45 minutes before the first practice!” he marvels. “And they haven’t let up. They’ve been great learners and performers. With that attitude, every day is a new day.”

As the first group to play in the new facility, the players have a lot of responsibility and ownership, Dobie notes.

“They have the chance to be pioneers and leaders. They have the power to set the precedent and establish the culture of Bison sports in this new era,” he says — much as U of M students and the rest of the university community will set the precedent for the fan culture.

“What they establish is going to be handed forward. Will the community take advantage of the opportunity provided by the new stadium, and embrace the team? It’s a wonderful opportunity,” he says.

“Bison sports is part of the university experience, and I hope that the whole university community takes pride in and takes advantage of the new stadium, and sees Bison Sports as something it wants to embrace. It’s a new era for Bison Football.

“We’re going to do it proud.”

This article first appeared in the September 12, 2013 edition of The Bulletin.

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