SU football players learn teamwork and leadership from Fort Drum soliders

SU Football players train at Fort Drum

There weren't any pads, helmets cleats or even pigskin, but on Wednesday morning, the SU football team still practiced their teamwork, leadership and even some strength and conditioning..

Members of the military on Fort Drum took about half the team through leadership and team building exercises. Comprised of five different stations, the squad split into smaller groups, tackling each station in a different way. Each activity was run by a soldier, meaning their activity had military principals.

One station looked like giant spider-web concocted across a soccer goal. The players had to make it through the web without touching the ropes...timed. This station meant to teach the players to be creative and find a way through to their destination, while working together.

Another station involved a maze set up on about half a soccer field. One player stood outside it, guiding three others who were blind-folded. No one in the group was allowed to speak. The solder leading the station told the players exercises like that one helped younger soliders become leaders in times of battle.

One of the more physical stations involved saving the 'body' of a fallen comrade. But, to do so, the players had to use certain tools, and each other.

"The hardest thing? Probably over there that station we had to bring a casualty across probably about 200 meters and back..,with a tire and a pole and a board...that was pretty tiring," SU linebacker Josh Kirkland says.

One station involved a good deal of memory and organization. The group of players had to look at a table set up with bags and other military gear, and remember exactly where each item was. After getting a good look, they then performed physical tasks like up-downs and log lifts for a certain period of time. During that time the table's items were scrambled. Once finished with the physical tasks, they had to return to the table and set it exactly how they saw it at the beginning. The soldier leading this group compared it to organizing his troops, saying if one person or piece is out of place, that can mean the difference between a successful and failed mission.

Another station threw some of the players off, as they had to suspend themselves above the ground using straps connected to overhead poles (see picture). The straps would expand and contract depending on the weight of the player using it, so balance was key in this exercise. The solider leading this group was of smaller stature, but said exercises like this help prepare him to carry any weight of his squad members in battle.

The players came together at the end of the session, and marched as a team in formation to their lunch period. One of the soldiers led them with chants.

The Orange will have their annual Fort Drum intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday, and will depart from Fort Drum on Friday afternoon.

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