SU football gains military values at Fort Drum

For the fourth consecutive year, players and coaches have the opportunity to interact with soldiers during pre-season training.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. –- On Tuesday Syracuse football completed the second day of its Fort Drum visit and learned lessons that extend far beyond the football field. 

The Orange players and coaches got a small taste of the soldier’s life in an experience that has become a tradition for Syracuse football.

“Great to be back at Fort Drum training and mingling with the world’s greatest military,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here.”

Photo: Yonah Perline
SU football's stretching routine overlooked by Fort Drum military personnel.

The day began with a tour of one of the base’s hangars, which housed several helicopters and Humvees.

Soldiers were on hand to explain and explore the vehicles as well as some of the weapons in the U.S. Army’s arsenal, including sniper rifles and assault rifles.

These interactions with the soldiers and the equipment they use to do their jobs left many of the players and coaches with newfound respect and admiration for these men and women.

Talking with one soldier left sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin particularly humbled.

“When we play, we all want to go undefeated. You never want to lose. But if you lose a game, it’s really not that big of a deal,” Franklin said. “For them losing means never seeing your family again.”

Coach Shafer also stressed the importance of appreciating the sacrifices made by the soldiers at Fort Drum and around the world.

“We want to listen to their stories which in turn gives us the opportunity to appreciate what we have and also appreciate the fact that they’re protecting us so that we can go play the greatest game ever created,” Shafer said.

At 4 p.m. the team moved on to the field for a practice. As the players worked through their warmups one of the coaches could be heard exclaiming that it wasn’t going to be hard to warm up today- whether he was referring to the weather or the special motivation of being at Fort Drum is up for debate.

Halfway through the practice, it was moved indoors on account of nearby thunder. Despite being disappointed that he had to end practice earlier than planned, coach Shafer said that the overriding goal of today and the entire Fort Drum experience was getting the players out of their comfort zones.

“We want to get away from what’s normal and find a new normal and have to rely on one another,” Shafer said.

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