Stanford and North Carolina continue preparing for the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Friday afternoon, but both teams took some time away from the football field to spend an afternoon on a different kind of field.
Both teams had the opportunity to visit Fort Bliss, an Army base located right in the heart of El Paso. Each team took turns seeing the base, exploring inside a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and a M1-A2 Abrams tank, and going through the same time of simulators that are used in military training.
“They’re getting a little introduction into what we do as soldiers as we go through preparation for deployment and training,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Wray Gabelmann.
As the teams checked out their surroundings on base, players found that just fitting into some of the vehicles and simulators was a challenge.
“When we see a football player or a citizen come and see these vehicles, it’s amazing to see them see and understand just how heavy these vehicles and equipment are and how we deploy them in combat,” Gabelmann said.
With a trip that’s been full of new experiences so far, this particular stop has stood out in everyone’s mind.
“This has been my favorite part of the trip so far,” said North Carolina defensive back K.J. Sails, “Everything has been great.”
Later that night, the players enjoyed a meal with the troops and the interaction between football player and soldier was one of both excitement and mutual respect for each other.
“The troops really enjoy the interaction between the football players,” Gabelmann said, “It’s a proud moment when we get the opportunity to explain and show what we do.”
It also gave some perspective behind the mentality towards playing football and it’s something that one player won’t forget.
“As a football player, you have that mentality that you’re a soldier on the field but when you get to interact with real soldiers, it’s really cool just to see what it’s like,” said Stanford defensive back Quenton Meeks, “You really get to see what it takes to be a soldier and I have all the respect in the world for these guys and I’m just thankful for them.”
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