Coming together

Bulldogs bond on and off the field

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- The downpour of rain left University of Wyoming football coach Joe Glenn with two options -- ask the 26 teams at his camp to keep getting wet or give them the rest of the night off.

"Do you guys want to go out or what?" Glenn asked the 40 coaches sitting with him in the Clark Dormitory lobby. "It's your camp, so it's up to you."

Rain already had canceled Wednesday night's session and was threatening again Thursday to take away the planned night of seven-on-seven and pass rushing.

While coaches quietly pondered, the pitter-patter of raindrops was the only sound in the lobby.

There were two prevailing thoughts for the coaches to base their decisions on. First, each camper had paid at least $300 to play football, not sit in a dorm and find his own way to be entertained. On the other hand, the rain was saturating the turf, and wet ground equals bad footing, which leads to an increased possibility of injury.

After 40 seconds of silence, a coach broke up the rain's monopoly on sound. "I'm worried about getting a kid hurt," he said.

"I've got too small of a team to lose a guy," another added.

No one else spoke up, so Glenn took the two opinions as the consensus.

"That's fine -- we'll have some team building tonight," he said. "Team building is just as important as being on the field."

The Moffat County High School coaches couldn't have agreed with Glenn more.

"We're here to build family," coach Kip Hafey said. "Our saying for the season is 'One Family, One Destiny' and that happens on and off the field."

The team camp usually allowed for both types of team building, but the 2004 version would be more slanted toward the off-the-field bonding experiences because of the rain.

After the meeting, the coaches reported back to the campers, and it appeared as though the players didn't mind another night off.

"I call first shower," said one of the Bulldog players after the announcement.

"I get first-player control," said another, claiming his spot at the video-game console.

Five minutes later, players were hanging out in the room of defensive coaches Lance Scranton and Chris Dralle.

"The hat rule is stupid, Scranton," a hat-wearing player said about the no-hat rule in school.

"Next year, (the rule's) gone so you don't have to worry about that," Scranton said and then after a brief pause, he asked: "Don't you take your hat off to eat?"

"Why?" the pro-hat campaigner asked.

"It's called manners," the coach said.

The air in the dorm smelled like a mix of damp socks, adolescent armpits and the byproduct of indigestion from cafeteria food. Actually the smell was more like home -- the home locker room.

The fragrance from the day wasn't the only reminder that work had been accomplished before the rain shortened things. After the rain-out was called, the coaches sat down to discuss what they had seen during the 11-on-11 games against other teams.

The Bulldog staff members said they had done well against every team they had played, but did notice that relative to other teams, their players' emotions and behavior after big plays seemed subdued.

"We are at the point where we expect to do well," Hafey said. "So I don't think you'll see us out there celebrating every play."

The staff thought they had won every matchup (there is no score kept) until Thursday's fourth scrimmage. Moffat County took on the Renegades in game four, a team of individuals invited to the camp by the university so the Cowboys could look at them.

The Renegades came out on defense whoopin', hollerin' and hitting hard. The first couple of plays the Bulldogs were moved backward, and two seniors, Scott Garoutte and Daniel Tague, left the game with injuries.

"They woke us up a bit," Garoutte said. "There were hitting illegally and we weren't going to let them do that."

A fired-up, and uncharacteristically vocal Bulldog team met the Renegades head on the rest of the 30-minute scrimmage.

"(The Renegades) were D-1 caliber athletes here to be scouted," Hafey said. "We scored a couple on them and forced a turnover so I thought we held our own."

While the Renegades brought out the bull in the Bulldogs, it wasn't hard to see before that scrimmage that MoCo isn't going to be without the size and strength this year.

"You are the heart of the team," Hafey told his linemen Wednesday night in the day's last meeting. "If we are to reach our goal of the state championship, you are going to take us there."

The beauty of the bulked-up boys on the line is their team-first attitude, Hafey said.

"Those guys have been really encouraging to each other," he said. "We can see they have great attitudes, as well, because if they make a mistake they get back up and make a great play the next time."

One of the linemen, Stetson Otero, a senior next year, made what he considered his biggest play of the day in the dorm hallway. He gave Hafey a bear hug.

"He got a hold of me good," Hafey said, as if he had been beaten in a friendly competition against a sibling. Then again, if the year's slogan is "One Family, One Destiny," they are brothers.

With the rain falling, the Bulldogs were sitting in the lobby of Clark Dorm waiting for Glenn to kick off the team bonding with stories and anecdotes about his love for the sport. Team captains Garoutte and Kellan Moore were looking forward to the night of movie watching, video-game playing and adding to the locker room-like smell.

"(Hanging out) is what being a team is about," Moore said. "It's not that big of a deal that we aren't out playing because we're still growing."

Garoutte agreed but was looking forward to the family reunion on the field.

"We still want to go out and hit some people," he said.

Hit people and then help them up with a smile that says, "You mess with my family, you mess with me."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.