By Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox News)March 2, 2018
The task seemed simple enough; use a rope, board and teamwork to get over a high wall and across a wobbly rope bridge to carry ammunition to simulated Soldiers in the middle of war.
The rules? No touching the ground within the area marked off by crossties. No touching yellow painted areas. No throwing equipment or teammates to negotiate obstacles. All equipment and teammates must get to the other side within 40 minutes.
The task proved much more difficult for members of the 2017 United Soccer League Champion Louisville City Football Club.
They had traveled to Fort Knox Tuesday to meet personnel working at the Army post and their families. The team also came to sign autographs and play in a scrimmage game.
Dunagan Teamwork Development course challenged them. A military police officer responsible for setting up the course conditions talked to the players, broken into four the teams, about what went wrong when they reached the top of the wall.
"Everything changes when you get up there, huh?" the Soldier said. "It's like that old saying with Mike Tyson -- everybody's got a plan until they get punched."
Fort Knox planners provided the team with a variety of experiences during the visit, including a demonstration with military working dogs, simulated scenario training with weapon systems at the Engagement Skills Trainer, lunch with Soldiers, meet-and-greets and autograph signing as well as an intrasquad scrimmage at the turf field.
Louis-ville City FC head coach James O'Connor said the simulator and confidence course provided him and his coaches a strategic opportunity during the visit.
"From our standpoint, it's a great experience to get the players challenged to think outside the box, and to see who may possess the leadership skills that we don't fully know yet," he said. "Maybe we're surprised by some of the ones who we think are leaders who haven't been able to figure it out."
O'Connor joined the team in 2015, shortly after they had formed in 2014. The team has risen to the top of the league in three years. He said they are already looking ahead at the coming season set to begin in a few weeks.
"It'll be a stiff
test for us this year but we're excited about the challenge," O'Connor said. "That's what we play sport for is the competition. It's an exciting time for us."
The visit comes at a good time. O'Connor said the weapons simulation and confidence course gave them opportunities to assess the team while providing a taste of what Soldiers experience.
"This is huge for us to be able to come and meet everybody here and thank them for their service," he said. "We're very thankful for everyone who has given us this opportunity."
Louisville City attacking midfielder George Davis IV has a unique perspective on what the military goes through. He has a grandfather who served in the Marines during Vietnam and a father who also joined the Marines.
In his third season with the team, Davis also has some local ties, having graduated from the University of Kentucky before starting his professional soccer career in Richmond, Virginia. He has been playing for eight years.
"This is awesome. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everybody involved," Davis said. "The fact that they would bring us into their environment and give us a taste of their day-to-day, and some of the obstacles and challenges that they face, which are similar to ours from a team aspect, is very important and appreciated."
He acknowledged the one difference between sports and war. One thing that we can take from here is that our consequences are maybe if we lose the game or we don't have a good performance," Davis said. "On their side of things, it would be a loss of life or something much worse. It puts things in perspective, and it's very humbling."