The University of Arizona football team held its first practice on post to kick off the annual trip at Fort Huachuca Thursday morning at the Warrior/Sentinel Fields. In attendance for the practice were U.S. Army soldiers and community members who make a special point to catch the action each year.
“The biggest thing I like is that it gives us a true camp atmosphere, particularly being around the military guys and getting a feel for how they do business,” said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. “I think every football player needs to go through a camp type experience. That’s what this gives us.”
“It’s good to come down here to get away from the clutter and play football for the troops,” mentioned senior linebacker Marquis Flowers. “To hear their stories and hear what they go through is amazing.”
That interaction with the troops is what they always enjoy taking advantage of. The team takes time every day to do so and get to know some of the nations heroes. There is a special dinner planned with the entire team and the soldiers set for Thursday evening which is something the team really looks forward too.
“I really enjoy that to hear some of their stories,” explained Rodriguez. “And then our players will be meeting with a lot of troops and eating dinner with them. They enjoy that. Really, if you look at it, they are about the same age. It’s a pretty good interaction there.”
“The stuff they go through on an everyday basis,” Flowers added. “It makes me realize how lucky and blessed I am to play this game, and how thankful I am for people who want to volunteer and do this. Every dinner we sit by troops and ask them questions. I think I ask more questions than they ask me.”
Though the scenery is different for the Wildcats in the middle of their fall camp, the demands and the schedule is about the same. The team maintains similar practice and meeting schedules, but Rodriguez notes that there are aspects of this trip that are different than what the team does while in Tucson.
We’re around our brothers all the time and we can’t wait to get on the field
“We meet an awful lot and try to get some assignments down,” Rodriguez explained. “Then we take a little bit of the evening time to get to know each other. We’ll take 30 minutes tonight and have some random groups and talk about things outside of football and get to know about each other’s personal lives.”
“I don’t think there is anything different, but we want to be more intense,” Flowers said. “Schools just ended yesterday, so there is nothing to think about but football. We’re around our brothers all the time and we can’t wait to get on the field. As a defense, we can’t wait so we have to bring intensity every day. We’re trying to improve and get better.”
The Wildcats are at this U.S Army installation through the weekend with their weekend of practices concluding with an open scrimmage at 5:30 on Saturday. They then head back to Tucson on Sunday.