WACO, Texas - Over the course of the past year, Fort Hood Soldiers and Baylor University athletes have conducted joint cross training in a unique program to enhance fitness for both groups.

This partnership originally began as a way to introduce both Baylor athletes and Soldiers of the 91st Engineer Battalion "Sabers," 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division to additional training regimens to enhance performance.

The collaborative training fosters a meshing of ideas, techniques and experiences that benefits both athletes and Soldiers, said Lt. Col. Andrew Short, commander, 91st Eng. Bn.

"Having developed a personal and professional relationship with coach Chris Ruf and coach Kaz Kazadi, I truly believe we've enhanced their program for the better," said Short. "And I believe our Soldiers are learning about the intensity it takes to execute a good physical fitness program. As we preach with our Saber Excellence Program, to be a true, well-rounded, balanced and lethal Soldier, you must also master the mental side of performance. Baylor has helped us reinforce this."

After the first meeting in Spring 2015, when Saber Soldiers first went to Baylor to workout with the athletic coaches, both organizations dove headfirst into collaborative physical training.

In the summer, players from the Baylor football team conducted Army physical fitness training regimens with Soldiers here. Afterwards, both the Baylor softball and baseball teams made the same trip in the summer and fall.

"When you put two groups that are both very driven together, there is a synergy that happens, because everyone is building off of each other," said Chris Ruf, Baylor University Director of Athletic Performance. "Every single student athlete and coach that went down there got better for the experience. That's big for our program because we are always looking to improve our athletes, both physically and mentally."

The coaches and athletes aren't the only ones learning from this partnership.

In preparation for the brigade's upcoming deployment to South Korea next year, Soldiers from the 91st Eng. Bn. took part in a two-day seminar Dec. 9 and Dec. 11, hosted by the Baylor athletic coaches. Company commanders, first sergeants, and designated company physical fitness trainers attended the presentation.

The bulk of the seminar focused on stress management, mental development and lifestyle strategies. At the end of the meeting, each company presented their program to the coaches and received feedback about their plans.

"The feedback we received from the coaches was invaluable," said Sgt. David Smith, physical fitness trainer, Company B, 91st Eng. Bn. "It really helped us fine-tune our programs that we will take to Korea. All the information we got from these last few days will help us become better leaders, better Soldiers, and a better overall unit."

Short says he plans to continue the partnership that the 91st Eng. Bn. and Baylor have built together over the past year and pass it on to the next commander of the Saber battalion.

"It is awesome to work with an institution like Baylor," said Short. "And though we've gained a lot from what they've given us, it has been very rewarding for our Soldiers to share a little bit of our Army with the staff and student athletes."