NORFOLK, Va. - At first glance, it appeared to be sideline shenanigans. Upon further review, it was much more than that.
Jake Rahne, the youngest of head coach Ricky Rahne's two sons, was playfully jumping on a tackling dummy during Tuesday's Old Dominion University football practice - the team's first spring workout in two years.
Rahne, a first-time head coach, had his first spring practice canceled then saw his first regular season scrapped. Tuesday, finally, he and his team were back on the field. And as his 'other' family returned to the gridiron, his immediate family was there, too: his wife Jennifer - along with Jake and his oldest son, Ryder.
"They've missed it as much as anybody," Rahne said of his family. "Just the fact they can be here, it's an awesome deal. For me, it's one of the most important things about where I buy a home and where I coach. I'm going to go over there and have a little fun with them after practice."
And he did just that, throwing passes with Ryder on the far field of the L.R. Hill Sports Complex following the Monarchs' first of 15 spring practices - a session that will culminate with the annual spring game Saturday April 3rd. While the spring game is more of a scrimmage, it will be the first game of any kind since ODU completed a 1-and-11 season in 2019. The program parted ways with head coach Bobby Wilder two days later prior to hiring Rahne December 9, 2019.
"I do see a team that has renewed love for the game of football," Rahne said of his players' excitement to return to the field. "Maybe before it was a job - coaches included. But now we know it can be taken away from us."
"It really made me appreciate how much my passion for football really grew whenever we got a chance to compete and be around my teammates," senior linebacker Jordan Young added. "I knew I'd really miss that feeling if I didn't get that chance again, so I really appreciate everything in this process that goes into playing football."
"I think everybody out here - they see every day as an absolute blessing," Rahne noted. "You saw a lot of guys having fun out there today, running around."
Some of those guys having fun and running around weren't even in uniform - and they share a last name with the head coach.