Aug 5, 2013, 11:25 AM EDT
Former Notre Dame football linebacker Kory Minor (@KMine4) took time out of his busy schedule to write a four-part series chronicling his experiences at off-site training camp facilities with the Irish. Minor, a four-year member of the football squad went on to the NFL for a few years and is currently traveling the country speaking at colleges, universities and corporations on leadership and the concept of winning. Minor’s first book, “Make a Touchdown of Your Life” is due out soon. You can order the book at KoryMinor.com.
I must admit the trip to Culver Military Academy was a very daunting and eye-opening experience for me. Not only was I home sick by leaving California and especially leaving my mom, but then to leave from Notre Dame was heartbreaking, yet I understood the reason. See in the game of college football the playing field gets equalized every year. Every year universities fight over the best talent across the country. It is sort-of- like Vegas, it is truly the luck of the draw where an athlete will land. The ’94 season did not end with the most successful outcome for the Irish and in most organizations whenever there is a stir-up it forces management to re-group. At the University of Notre Dame it was no different. Team building means to increase a teams understanding and dynamics and improve how the team works together. A great way to do this is by removing anyone and everyone from their most reliable environment and dropping them in a new scene in which they have to rely on one another to be prosperous.
Culver was a place where there would be no distractions; no fans, no students, no dorm life and nothing of resemblance. Just football. From sun up to sun down the focus was football and how to bridge the gap between the ’94 season to the ’95 season. It was back to the basics; blocking and tackling, footwork, stance, alignment and responsibility. I was not of age to witness Bear Bryant but I would guess that Lou Holtz borrowed a thing or two from him and from his time with the legendary Woody Hayes. As a freshman, all I remember thinking was how different high school football and college football was. How college footbal was the big leagues and there was nothing bigger besides the NFL. At times I am not sure the NFL can compete with the notoriety and stardom that comes with playing for the Irish.
I must say the team went to work with one goal in mind and that was a successful ’95 campaign. Lou always stressed the word WIN which stood for “What’s Important Now.” We lived the idea of WIN day in and day out during our time at Culver. We ate, drank and slept football. There would be a few nights throughout our time at Culver that was geared for team building. These nights consisted of rookie shows, movies and free time. During the rookie shows freshmen had to put on skits either solo or with partners and ‘wow’ the upper-classmen. It was a chance for sophomores, juniors and seniors to see what freshman was the most talented dancer or singer and I can say without a shadow of a doubt none of us would have advanced far on America’s Got Talent. Overall, I believe the coaching staff made their point loud and clear, we understood the meaning of being unselfish, we had a better grasp on what it would take to sacrifice for each other and we began to create a game plan for winning.
At the beginning, the time at Culver seemed like an eternity and many times I wondered if I would make it through but we literally carried each other through and it turned out to be a great decision. I believe the time at Culver shaped who we were as a team. We ended up finishing the season with a 9-3 record and playing Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Check back tomorrow for the second part of Kory’s four-part off-campus story series entitled “Team Takeaways.”
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