USL League One club Lansing Ignite's players got put through their paces on Monday with physicals ahead of their first official practice on Tuesday. | Photo courtesy Lansing Ignite
LANSING, Mich. – The voice of Lansing Ignite Head Coach Nate Miller rang loudly across the field regularly on Tuesday morning as the new USL League One side opened its inaugural training camp.
For some of the players in attendance, like midfielder Lewis Jones, it was a familiar sound.
“[Miller] doesn't accept mediocrity,” Jones told the Lansing State Journal’s Phil Friend. “He doesn't accept people coming out and just going through the paces. He just wants you to improve and that's the best thing a player would want as a coach.”
Jones is one of five players currently in the club’s squad who played for Miller previously as a member of Lansing United to make the move into the professional ranks this season with the Ignite. He’s joined by midfielder Kyle Carr, midfielder Rafa Mentzingen, midfielder Tumi Moshobane and center back Grant Stoneman, all of whom are aiming to play a major role in the new side’s first year.
The approach taken by Miller and Sampson to bring former Lansing United players into the new club’s inaugural squad is certainly not an uncommon one. It’s also been seen among the USL Championship’s newcomers this offseason, with Hartford United Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen and El Paso Locomotive Head Coach Mark Lowry both bringing aboard players who have competed for them at prior jobs to their new teams.
Having a familiarity with the counter-pressing style Miller has looked to employ both with United and collegiately at Spring Arbor University should help Lansing as it kicks off the season on Saturday, March 30 on the road against the Richmond Kickers – a side that having moved this offseason from the USL Championship has its own set of returning players and chemistry built into its squad.
Tuesday was a busy day overall for the Ignite squad, who after their first training sessions spent the evening meeting many of the club’s fans at a meet-and-greet event held at The View within the confines of the club’s home field, Cooley Law School Stadium. Players and coaches were greeted by supporters group The Assembly Line and others as the Ignite began the road to their home opener on Saturday, April 13.
With 16 roster spots already filled, and seven trialists currently with the club looking to earn a place in the final squad that Sampson expects will feature 22-to-24 players, the energy within the club as it works to the rhythms of Miller’s voice has the Ignite’s players eager to get this new venture on the road.
“It made it easy to say yes because I know what I'm getting into, the standard that these great men [Miller and Sampson] set,” Carr told Friend. “I was really ecstatic to get back to work with them, and I know the culture they want to create, and they run the club very well.”
For more from Lansing Ignite’s first day of preseason, make sure to check out Phil Friend’s full story for the Lansing State Journal.