Cats Report to Duty at Ft. Huachuca
Aug. 13, 2009
FORT HUACHUCA – It was a cool and soggy Thursday morning here at Fort Huachuca, but that didn’t damper the spirits of the Arizona football team as it kicked off the first of five practices over the next three days.
For the second straight year, head coach Mike Stoops has brought his troops about 60 miles southeast of Tucson to learn from some of the nation’s smartest and bravest soldiers at Fort Huachuca, which is home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command.
Over the next several days, players and coaches will participate in a handful of activities with personnel on post. But after moving into the barracks on Wednesday evening, the team continued its 2009 Fall Camp with a 7:30 a.m. practice at rain-soaked Warrior/Sentinel Field.
Thursday morning’s practice offered a benefit that coaches couldn’t even plan for, which was working out in wet conditions with temperatures in the low 60’s – something typically faced at least once or twice per season at road games in the Pacific Northwest. Such conditions typically bother the offense more than defense, and coaches were pleased that quarterbacks, receivers and running backs got some experience as a steady rain fell throughout the practice.
After practice, Stoops addressed his team and stressed the importance of preserving through such conditions that cannot be controlled. Among the points to his team was an emphasis on protecting the football and limiting turnovers, which tied into the constant reminder throughout camp about winning close games.
Energy was high throughout practice as a change in venue and scenery was welcomed by the players, most of whom wrapped up summer school courses on Wednesday. Such an experience not only allows the players to concentrate more on football, but spend more time together and build the camaraderie ahead of the season-long grind of a football season.
The formula worked well a year ago as the Wildcats debuted at Fort Huachuca and the makings of a Las Vegas Bowl championship team were born. This year, coaches and players feel the experience will be just as rewarding and have even added an extra day to the schedule.
After three days of practice, meetings and engagements with soldiers, Sunday will be entirely dedicated to team-building and leadership skills. Players will split into groups and work through leadership reaction courses and engagement skills simulators at the direction of U.S. Army soldiers.
But before then, the Wildcats will complete their first two-a-day practice this evening at 6:15, then return to the practice field again on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.