Landmark News Service
Coaches in many sports talk about going “back to basics” after rough or rebuilding seasons.
The University of Louisville football team, however, is taking the phrase to its most literal sense as the Cardinals visit Fort Knox on Sunday for a day of leadership training.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have them,” said Fort Knox Commanding General Maj. Don Campbell, who will welcome the team and coaches at 1 p.m. at Waybur Theatre. “My guys came to me and asked me if we should support this and I told them, ‘Oh, absolutely.”
Following Campbell’s welcome, the Cardinals will be divided up into four platoons and move out to Dunagan Teamwork Development Course with their drill sergeants. Drill sergeants will hand out dog tags to each player on the bus while en route to the training site.
“We really are getting back to basics. We’ll have an opportunity to see what our soldiers go through every day to protect our freedom,” said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. “And we’re going to get after it. I think it will be a fun day and it will be a great team building activity, but with this, we also want them to understand price of freedom is high.”
At 1:30, the platoons will execute three stations at the training course. The winning squad will move on to the Beaudoin Obstacle Course to execute the slide for life with some VIPs.
“He’ll get to see who rises to the top and exerts some leadership skills,” Campbell said.
Following the slide for life, the platoons will head to the high school’s Powers Alumni Performance Arts Center, where Fort Knox Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell will conduct a brief after action review at 3:45.
Roughly 20 minutes later, the Cardinals will change clothes at the high school gym and eat dinner inside the cafeteria before a 5 p.m. community meeting at the high school’s McAdams Field. The team will sign autographs for the fans and participate in a youth skills station.
At 6:15, Kragthorpe will address fans to close out the evening.
While the Cardinals have never had an afternoon like this at Fort Knox before under Kragthorpe, he said the team and the base’s soldiers aren’t all that different.
“The commonalities that some of our players have with the men and women at Fort Knox aren’t that surprising,” Kragthorpe said. “You take people from all over the country, you bring them in and you try to mold them. That’s what we’re trying to do here and that’s what they do every day at the base.”
Originally, Kragthorpe wanted to spend more than just a few hours at the base.
“We contacted them first and we looked at the possibility of actually practicing for a week but logistically, we learned it just wasn’t going to work. So we figured the next best thing was to come down and spend the day,” he said.
Campbell, meanwhile, said the wheels are in motion to get the Cardinals on post for multiple days in the future.
“My guys tell me we can do it if we have enough notice,” he said. “I hope this is something we can build on for our relationship. This is great both for U of L as well as Fort Knox and the surrounding community.”
While Campbell and the base are welcoming the Cardinals with open arms, Campbell admitted he can’t be too friendly, especially after how the Cardinals beat his college alma mater, Kansas State, last season.
“I’m a UK and a U of L fan. I follow both,” he said. “But yeah, I’ll definitely mention that when I talk to them Sunday.”
IF YOU GO The general public is invited to meet the University of Louisville football team at 5 p.m. Sunday at Fort Knox High School’s McAdams Field. The players will sign autographs from 5-6:15 p.m., and everybody is encouraged to bring their Cardinals paraphernalia to have signed. Following the autograph signing, Cardinals coach Steve Kragthorpe will address the crowd and give them his thoughts on the upcoming season. To make this easy on fans who aren’t familiar with Fort Knox, they simply need to drive up to the Chaffee (Main) Gate – located on East Bullion Boulevard just off U.S. 31W – and inform the gate guards they’re here for the “Meet the Cards” event. From there, they’ll just follow the directional signs posted which will lead to the appropriate location