The Final 49: Team Building
by Tom Whitestone
Blocking sleds rest next to pallets of bricks. The deep green of the practice field is outlined by orange construction fence. The route to practice is guarded by red and yellow caution tape.
Footballs fly through the air, but, it seems, they could just as easily land in a backhoe as a receiver's arms, the construction vehicles are so plentiful.
A forklift races behind the goal posts. A concrete truck spins down the sideline. And, the clink and clatter of the tracks of a loader seem louder than the pounding of pads.
This team certainly won't need any reminders of the work that helped bring their football world to life.
Reminders are all around them.
Motors are constantly running. Hard hats and orange vests abound. Construction trucks roll in and out of the access road.
Soon the stadium and grounds will be turned over to the university. Soon, the tractors and trucks and engines and beeps and whirring will be gone.
This construction team has worked off its collective butt. Consider: Less than a year and a half ago, this stadium site was several large recreational fields. The only tractors around were brought in for the ceremonial groundbreaking, April 28, 2011. Less than a year and a half ago, we had renderings.
Now, we have a 15,300-seat stadium. We have a 46,150 square foot football center, 34,011 square feet of concourse buildings and 243,000 square feet of game and practice fields.
Dirt was dug out and moved here and there. Rock was crushed. Concrete was poured. The recreational fields were relocated. And this football world took shape.
Soon, the yellow dump trucks, lifts and excavators will be gone forever from what, just a short time ago, had become a giant Tonka truck playground. Soon the last brick will be laid on the grounds around the stadium. Soon, the only sounds you will hear at practice will come from the air horn, the whistles, the coaches, the players and the pads.
But, when they finally have this site to themselves, this team will remember all those they shared it with. When they finally hit the stadium turf, they will remember the work that put it there. And when they run out to practice, they'll remember they aren't running alone.
Take a quick look around. Plenty have pitched in to build this program.
And that, this team will always remember.
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