For cadets, summer is about ingenuity, self-reliance
Posted: Thursday August 23, 2007 2:20PM; Updated: Thursday August 23, 2007 2:57PM
Center Blaine Guenther spent part of his summer in Kadena, Japan, safety Bobby Giannini logged time in Langley, Va., and other teammates were scattered from China to Florida. Chaos? Sure, but for Air Force, it's a typical summer.
On 116 Division I-A campuses, summer is about laboring together through workouts that are "voluntary" in name only. For the three military academies' players, who often spend part of their summers away from school, it's often about flexibility and self-discipline.
At the Air Force Academy summers are broken down into three three-week periods and most players spend at least some part of their break at an Air Force base, working the cadet-run basic training for incoming freshman or running sports camps. That makes running a simple 7-on-7 drill an exercise in improvisation, with players playing out of position to offset the lack of numbers.
"There's something special about academy kids," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. "They're extremely resourceful. They're guys that got a complete disregard when it comes to alibis. They want to find a way to get things accomplished"
Take Falcons wide receiver/running back Chad Hall and linebacker Julian Madrid, who trudged to the air field six days a week at 4:45 a.m. to go through Academy Flight Screening, a 12-hour-a-day course that evaluates whether cadets will have success as pilots or navigators following graduation. Despite the laborious hours, the roommates still managed to spend 4-5 hours a day in the gym or on the practice field.
It's a level of dedication that leaves no questions among teammates about whether or not they are putting in the work, despite a situation that has them hundreds, even thousands of miles apart for the entire summer.
"Obviously, going to an academy, it takes a different breed to go there," senior linebacker Drew Folwer said. "That in itself gives everybody assurance that everybody's doing what they need to do just 'cause that's typically what we're labeled as, we're labeled as: 'Those overachievers that no one would give a chance but then the academy gives them a chance to play D-I ball,' and we make the most of it."
For Fowler, who spent part of last summer at Offutt AFB in Omaha, Neb., this summer was more relaxed. He spent the first three-week period working a sports camp at the Academy, went back home to North Carolina for the second period and finished his break by returning to Colorado Springs to take a class.
Fowler estimates there were 25-30 teammates on campus during the early period he spent there, and while the sheer number was more than enough to pull off any drill or workout, the variety of responsibilities the cadets have during their time in Colorado Springs makes it a near impossibility.