With a new season comes excitement for University of Central Arkansas Bears football as represented at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce Purple Passion event Thursday at Estes Stadium.
Stations set up for kids and their families to participate in various sporting events littered the field.
Kids played on bounce houses, tried to kick a field goal from about twenty yards out, a punt, pass and kick, as well as kids playing a forty-yard game of touch football.
There were also photo booths, a soccer station and an autograph line filled with football players, men’s and women’s soccer players and volleyball players.
Also at the event were football players displaying the new purple and white jersey tops that were unveiled on social media earlier Thursday.
The new jerseys are designed by Nike after UCA entered a five-year partnership with Nike after concluding its agreement with Adidas.
The purple tops have gray shoulders with white numbers and gray surrounding letters and numbers.
White jerseys have purple shoulders and numbers, while the names and numbers bordered by gray.
UCA president Houston Davis is looking forward to the season.
“There is nothing like this time of the year when the band strikes up and you start hearing that beat and that rhythm, the hitting together of shoulder pads and referee blows their whistles; we know the season is right around the corner,” he said. “We have a proud tradition of winning when it comes to UCA football. We are super excited as we are putting this year’s product on the field and cheer on coach Nathan Brown and the guys, as they are going to put together a great season. I have no doubt that it is going to establish the next chapter and the next legacy of UCA football.”
Athletic director Brad Teague gave praise to coach Nathan Brown.
“We haven’t played a game yet with Nathan Brown as head coach, but he has gotten some nice victories,” he said. “First of all, we had the No. 1 recruiting class in our conference in February. That placed us ninth in the nation for our recruiting class.
“That’s the first time ever we have had a top 10 recruiting class at UCA. He put together a great staff. We have four UCA quarterbacks on staff, three UCA Hall of Famers on staff. And then, he put together a defensive staff who runs the same system we ran and understands our personnel. I think it was a great job of putting together our personnel. Now, we are starting to get commitments for the next signing period in the winter. He and his staff has done a tremendous job of getting the team ready for the football season.”
Brown said Conway’s support for the program is tremendous.
“Conway supports our team and our athletic department about as well as anyone in our conference,” he said. “Dr. Teague mentioned something about recruits. That’s easy to do when you have a community like this. People’s support and the facilities we have, it’s not hard to recruit. We have a great administration and it starts with President Davis, our board of trustees, our athletic department is as good as anyone in the country.”
Brown is also excited about getting the season started.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “You can really feel football in the air. Our guys have had six great practices to this point. We are practicing hard. We have guys that are playing hard and we have kids that love football and the community. We look forward to this season and look forward to this season and building a legacy.”
The Bears start their season on the road Sept. 1 at Football Bowl Subdivision school the University of Tulsa.