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Southwestern University Takes Unique Football Field Trip

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
We first met coach Joe Austin in March. He had just been hired to resurrect a football program that has not played a game since 1950. In Texas, that's no easy task. So coach Austin recruited help from the greatest team in the world.

"You can watch game tapes of the Super Bowl champs or you can watch game tapes of some college teams, but our armed forces and our Army is a great team," said coach Austin.

Tuesday, the Southwestern University football team trained side by side with soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division on Fort Hood's Leadership Reaction Course.

"Like they say, you have to train with the best to be the best," said Southwestern offensive lineman Jose Perez.

The course, known as the LRC, is specifically designed to test mental and physical capacity while leading. For football players, it's like trying to navigate an offense through the red zone - if the football field had water hazards.

"Regardless of our rank and where we are in the military, we look to our right, we look to our left - you have battle buddies," said Lt. Col. Archie Herndon. "So you get on a course like this with the football team and it's the same thing."

"We need unity in order to accomplish things," said Pirates wide receiver Brandon Thomas. "So as a team, it's going to depend on certain people."

For Southwestern, a team starting from scratch - this exercise was just another step in the process of building a program. A project that won't work if everyone is not on board.

"We do have to create that unity, that team bonding," said Perez. "You don't have a good home without a good foundation, so that's where we are right now."

Although coach Austin was hired in the spring of 2012, the Southwestern football team does not play its first game until September of 2013. So this training exercise is as close to a game day as the Pirates will get.

"We don't get to go do the team-building and the competitive part in a football setting this year," says Austin. "We've got just a limited number of practices with a limited number of guys, so this was our game day."

So next fall, as the Pirates navigate through their first season in 63 years - their roster will be thin and their experience will be thinner. But when it comes to overcoming obstacles, there's already a game plan in place.Southwestern University Takes Unique Football Field Trip


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