First-year head coach Dominic Bramante will welcome approximately 30 candidates at 9 a.m. Saturday at Albuquerque’s Hotel Cascada, where players will undergo physicals, be issued equipment and given room assignments at the Glorieta camp. The team then embarks for northern New Mexico about 1 p.m.
“We’ll keep them busy from the time they get up to when they finally put their heads on the pillow,” Bramante said of the Glorieta portion of the preseason for the indoor pro team. “Our goal is to be up before the sun comes up (for taping and meetings). We’ll be done for the day when we get done.”
Three daily 90-minute practices are scheduled Sunday through Thursday, with the final one of the day a special-teams walk-through in the evening.
The Stars have to hustle because in two weeks they’ll be opening the 12-game regular season at home against the two-time defending league champion Amarillo Venom.
“It’s the best thing when you start with a program of excellence like Amarillo,” Bramante said. “It lets you know right off what your standing is, where your footing is. I wouldn’t want to open up with anyone else.”
Among high-profile players on the Stars are ex-University of New Mexico QB Donovan Porterie and New Mexico State alum Seth Smith, a running back who was a member of the Stars’ first two teams in 2012 and 2013.
Bramante has stressed since he joined the Stars as field boss in August that conditioning will be his utmost concern.
“I can’t control whether we’ll win all our games, but they will be the best-conditioned,” he said.
“We’re going to take it easy the first couple of days (in camp), especially with guys coming from sea level. We’ll do form work, a lot of (system) installation. Then we’ll gear it up and put helmets on by the latest Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, we’ll be putting guys through some tough work.”
Bramante said he won’t be alarmed if any of the players are run off because they find camp too taxing.
“You can’t have players like that anyway,” he said. “I hope our guys are thick-skinned, hungry to make their dreams come true. I don’t bring them in unless they have a dream to reach the highest level. If anyone quits now, we don’t need them, because in a game they’ll be the ones who let you down.”
In addition to drills, Bramante said there will be plenty of film study.
Bramante also said the 30-plus players he’s working with aren’t the only ones on his radar.
“We’re keeping open slots for (Arena League) cuts that come out next week,” he said. “We want to get some of those guys in, too.”
After the Stars’ stay in Glorieta, they will return to the metro area March 7 to complete preseason drills at a yet-to-be-determined site.
On March 9, the team will face the Metro Stars (area firemen and police) in a 2:30 p.m. exhibition game at the Star Center. Bramante said that not only will he be evaluating his squad that afternoon but that of the opponent and wouldn’t hesitate to bring one of the Metro Stars aboard.
“Darn straight, I’d love to be able to get one of them,” Bramante said.
Bramante said he and his staff will make final cuts to 23 by March 10.