Blue Devils grind through “basic training”

Independence Football
Independence participated in the Ohio Army National Guard Game of the Week in 2020.

Independence’s football team on Thursday added a military twist to its summer conditioning program.

For the second consecutive season, the Blue Devils invited Ohio’s National Guard out to a training session.

“They came out last year and the kids loved it so we had them come out again this year,” said Independence head coach Rick Adams. “We invited some of the middle schoolers, so they took part in it too. It was great. The kids got a really good workout.”

The goal of the training session was for each player to push himself both physically and mentally to push past any mental barriers that may have prevented the players from reaching their full potential.

One of the most grueling portions of the camp occurred when players had to carry a weighted backpack without allowing it to hit the ground.

When that player was fatigued, another had to step in to relieve his teammate.

“The most challenging part of the camp was everyone on the team had to carry this 60-pound sandbag at least one time during the camp,” said junior running back/linebacker Rory Corrigan. “If the person who was carrying it dropped it there would be consequences. When the person was holding it got tired someone else on the team would take it from them. It shows that your team has your back whenever you need it.”

During water breaks, the Army Non-Commissioned Officers shared with the Independence players many of the pillars of military service.

Adams is confident his players gained confidence by overcoming the physical challenges and, equally important, they also developed a better understanding of what it means to be a leader and good teammate.

“They really got a lot out of it,” Adams said. “Some of the upperclassmen who did it last year were saying how much it helps them. It’s some of the stuff you don’t learn at school, that leadership, teamwork, and mental toughness aspect. When things are really hard, you find that extra gear. It was really cool to see them encourage each other go out and help each other to finish the drills. It was really, really good for team building.”

Corrigan, an honorable mention all-district performer last season, is ready to step up as a leader this season and after Thursday’s workout, he’s more confident than ever that he has the tools to be successful.

“It was very fun,” he said. “It was something new and very challenging, but since we did it as a team, it was very fun. I will implement a lot of things in my leadership that I learned today. Today helped me see that if you have people around helping and cheering for you almost nothing is impossible.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.