FORT HOOD, Texas (Sept. 8, 2015) -- The Southwestern University football team used the Leader's Reaction Course here to sharpen their team-building skills.

"This is the fourth time we've brought our team to the leadership reaction course," said Joe D. Austin, SU head coach and native of Des Moines, Iowa. "Doing the course is great team building and it's great for us to analyze leadership and group work."

Austin said there was an advantage for his team training at Fort Hood with Soldiers.

"I also think it is beneficial for the Soldiers to evaluate them and give us some feedback and for them to interact with the Soldiers," said Austin.

A few of the SU players shared their experiences and takeaways on the day's events that they hoped would apply later.

"This is my first time doing this," said Niklis Kelly, an SU sophomore cornerback from League City, Texas. "It was challenging at first but once we started getting our routine and everyone fitted into their roles, it became pretty easy."

"We were fortunate enough to get to work in some different team building activities and obstacles," said Nick Mask, SU Pirates senior defensive end and native of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. "There were definitely some things we wouldn't get to see on the football field, but a lot of the same leadership skills and teamwork activities we used today would translate to having a successful football team."

Col. Michael C. Kasales, former First Army Division West chief of staff and volunteer strength coach for the Pirates, felt the players were adapting well to the military training environment.

"They've been doing a good job out here and are really getting something out of this," said Kasales. "They're a relatively young team so this is a good event to gel that leadership and help them work together."

Kasales aided the coordination of training and facilities, as well as the use of 120th Infantry Brigade noncommissioned officers as observers and coaches.

"Col. Kasales has been with us since last spring and we're thankful to have the connections out here to help us coordinate," said Austin.

Austin reiterated the importance of the Soldiers and their interactions with his team.

"I think the Division West, 120th Soldiers are quality people and I'm really proud that they would take time to work with our players," said Austin. "I think the more we have our players around Soldiers, with their dedication and character, they become more poised and positive."