The week on Fort Drum continues for the Syracuse orange football team as they get ready to open the season in just a few weeks. While much of focus will be on the players and how this trip can help them, it's the people at Fort Drum who say the team is returning the favor. Our Brian Dwyer is spending the week with the team on post and has more on what this can mean to the men and women of Fort Drum.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- As the Orange took the field Tuesday morning on Fort Drum, players and coaches already getting used to their new surroundings and they're all coming away impressed with the men and women of Fort Drum.
"I really admire being up here and watching how they operate," SU Defensive Backs Coach Donnie Henderson said. "You can't say enough about what they do for our country."
"There's a lot of things going on from a standpoint of we have a greater appreciation of what the men and women of our country are doing that allow us of our freedom," SU Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "I think we're learning a lot from them."
But the learning is a two way street. For every player learning leadership skills, teamwork and more, there's a soldier that's getting as much out of it, if not more.
"I think it gives them a great sense of pride. It lets them show people outside of there, you know, immediate squad and team and just what they do and their expertise," 1st Lt. Joseph DeNenno, a Battalion Fire Support Officer said. "It makes them feel important and gives them a sense of purpose after we came back from a tour like that."
It can also be an eye opener, giving young soldiers a look at what's possible in life, in the Army and out.
"A lot of our soldiers do not have college yet," Major General Mark Milley, Fort Drum's Commanding General said. "They enlist coming right out of high school. It's also very, very important that young soldiers see their peers that are in college and that helps motivates them to seek out a college education."
And for the military kids often bounced from post to post, it's a chance to see what's it's like to get involved.
"It's a great opportunity for family members and soldiers to come out and see some really talented elite athletes practice their game and then be encouraged and motivated to play local sports," MG Milley added
No matter the reason, the players say they're thrilled to help in any way possible.
"Maybe they get some enjoyment out of it, watching us and kind of get their minds off of what they really have, the tasks at hand," Senior OT Justin Pugh said. "It's nice to give them a little break and let them have a little fun with things too."
Of course that works both ways, the Army playbook a bit of a fun break for the players who've been staring at the x's and o's of theirs for quite some time.
Wednesday the Orange will get that first hand look at military life, going through Army physical training and those leadership courses.