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The Gentlest Giants
Austin Murphy
August 31, 1992
Genial coach John Gagliardi's toughest job at St. John's of Minnesota is keeping the faculty happy
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August 31, 1992

The Gentlest Giants

Genial coach John Gagliardi's toughest job at St. John's of Minnesota is keeping the faculty happy

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Quiet, please. The calisthenics portion of football practice at St. John's of Minnesota is about to begin.

"One jumping jack!" barks a leader, one of this season's dozen or so captains. At St. John's the seniors are all captains. "They're all great guys," says coach John Gagliardi. "And this way they can all put 'Captain' on their résumés."

"Ready, begin!" shouts the captain du jour. Without any semblance of synchronicity, the Johnnies execute their daily jumping jack.

"Nice Day Drill!" comes the next command. The team drops as one to the grass, rolls onto its back and stares at the Minnesota sky. "Beautiful day, isn't it?" they are required, as part of the drill, to ask one another.

Presently calisthenics continue. "Stretch out on your own," the players are told. For several minutes they do.

"You guys wanna do any more of these?" the captain asks.

"Nahh."

Calisthenics are over.

So soon? What about leg lifts, quarter eagles, neck bridges and the rest of those time-honored contortions and isometrics, which, though they may have no practical application on the football field, look smart.

Spare us, say the Johnnies, whose cals are simply a mockery of some of the things they find ridiculous about the sport. It's all very well for the Johnnies to poke fun at the hidebound aspects of football, but surely there is a price to be paid for such insouciance. Surely this squad is a patsy on the field.

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