ENGLEWOOD, Colorado - Fifty service members got a taste of the NFL as the Broncos and USAA teamed up for an NFL Training Camp experience Aug. 21 at the Denver Broncos' University of Colorado Health Training Center Fieldhouse in Englewood.
A five-person team from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command competed against nine other service member teams in a football-themed skills contest that include the 40-yard dash, the three-cone shuttle, the vertical jump, a receiving gauntlet and the quarterback arm challenge.
Team SMDC, which consisted of Maj. Eddie Gorbett, Maj. Michael Smith, Capt. Brad Lail, Staff Sgt. Crystal Edralin and Staff Sgt. Brandon Vereen, worked together to take first place in the competition. And the team's alternate Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gio Perez assisted the 10th Mountain Division Special Forces Group by filling an open spot on their team.
Command Sgt. Maj. Tracey Rosser, command sergeant major, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, said the command picked the right team. "We had tryouts three weeks ago. We picked the five best. And I'm very proud of how this group performed today."
Lail said the group got together a few times to prepare.
"During practice, we went down the list of drills that were presented to us," he said. "Even that was fun - building the team and figuring out what we were good at and what we needed to work on. The team meshed very well. This has been a great experience in all aspects."
Lail said his favorite part of the day was the camaraderie and the intensity with not only his own team but with the other service members as well.
"It was a lot of fun having the professionals out here getting us motivated in the beginning and along the way," Lail said. "We had NFL pros Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey out here teaching us some tricks of the trade."
Lt. Col. Donald Brooks, commander, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, said he was very appreciative of USAA and the Broncos for putting together such an outstanding event.
"It's good to get an opportunity for the men and women to get out of the office and enjoy the day, which we don't get to do very often," he said. "We just want to show our appreciation to USAA and the Broncos for everything they have done for us.
"I'm super proud of our team that competed today," Brooks continued. "They did excellent in everything from running one of the fastest 40-yard dash times by the battalion executive officer [Gorbett] to Staff Sgt. Vereen throwing the record 66-yard pass. I think we represented well in all five events."
Following the competition, the service members were provided lunch, VIP access to watch the Broncos practice and a meet and greet with current and former Broncos players where they received autographs and photograph opportunities.
"We really appreciate USAA, the Broncos and the community for all the different aspects that went into putting this event on and helping us out," said Lail. "We look forward to continuing this partnership and friendship for years to come."