Syracuse University football players joined Commando Brigade Soldiers for an opportunity to experience how Soldiers train and build teams during their fourth annual football training camp at Fort Drum, N.Y., August 17-21.
In the spirit of one of 2nd Brigade Combat Team's principles, "People are the base of our mountain," the Commando team designed the week's events to focus on leader development and team building.
"It's great to be back at Fort Drum…this is a great experience for our players and coaches alike because we have an opportunity to learn from the best," explained Coach Scott Shafer, Syracuse University football team head coach.
This year's events focused on the similarities of how both organizations, 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2 BCT) and the Orange football team, build united and cohesive teams.
What's similar, what we all have in common is that we are trying to inspire young people to do something, to work toward the same goal, said Shafer.
Throughout the week, the Orange football players' ability to work together, communicate and how they motivate team or fellow squad members were challenged.
The team rappelled off a 45 ft. tower, overcame obstacles on the confidence course, participated in pugil stick training and a tournament, learned about aviation aircrafts and played paint ball. Along the way, the players were divided into squads, led by a non-commissioned officer (NCO), to mentor and give the men a more personal understanding of the Army lifestyle.
Building strong teammates and teams was a goal during the weeklong events. The rappelling and confidence course emphasized teamwork for the players who encouraged and helped many of their teammates to do something they normally wouldn't do.
"Overcoming your [personal] fear works anywhere, on the football field, in business- take your pick," said Capt. Greg Durso, special projects coordination officer. The idea is to look at something you normally wouldn't do or feel comfortable doing and work outside your comfort zone.
"You're up there [on the rappel tower] and you're like, 'I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this. But then you're up next and you're doing it," said Rob Tudo, Orange football player.
The anticipation is the hardest part, I saw all smiles as they [the players] finished rappelling, explained Durso.
Facing new situations gave an opportunity to players, whom may not be leaders on the football field, to step up and serve as leaders while on the confidence course.
"My favorite event this week was the confidence course because they had a bunch of players scared of heights and their team pulled them together and they faced their fears and conquered them," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey McPherson, serving as Foxtrot squad leader. "I did see a lot of them come together and teamwork become more natural even in this short week."
The culminating exercise was a series of paint ball games that pit players against players and the winning team of football players were matched up against the Catamount Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. Although the Soldiers were outnumbered at almost 2-to-1, they took the victory.
"The paintball game brought together physical fitness, working through adversity and having to function as a team. All things that are similar between being a Soldier in the U.S. Army and a player on the SU football team," explained John Goodwill, HHC, 2-87IN company commander. "I learned that the dedication, physical fitness and partnership is just a critical as winning on the fields of battle as it is on the fields of the Carrier Dome. I hope this week positively influenced the team to a winning season."