Early Saturday morning, before most BYU students had started their day, 10 Army ROTC Cadets were ready at the ROTC Building to participate in the rivalry-game spirit by running 25 miles with the game ball back to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Army ROTC has done this traditional activity for the rivalry game since 2003. Each year, the army cadets from BYU ROTC and U of U ROTC run the rivalry game ball from one stadium to another stadium where the rivalry game takes place. This year, the army cadets from University of Utah ran with the game ball from Rice-Eccles Stadium to the Point of the Mountain area. Then, the BYU army cadets carried the ball and ran 25 miles back to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“This is a good event,” said Dewey Boberg. “Physical fitness is a part of our culture in the army, so something like the game-ball run fits into that culture.”
Boberg said the game-ball run also provides some visibility and understanding to the rest of campus. Of BYU’s 30,000 BYU students, ROTC cadets make up less than 1 percent; therefore, not many students are fully aware of the ROTC and its objectives.
“Most students probably equate ROTC to football games, the guys doing push-ups and the flag details,” he said. “Because it’s what they see we do most.”
This event is another voluntary event of the ROTC; however, it’s also the opportunity for the cadets to challenge their ability in many ways.
“This kind of activity helps build teamwork,” Boberg said. “Because the guys work together. It challenges them because most people don’t get up on Saturday morning and go for a 25-mile run.”
Each ROTC activity is a leadership opportunity and the game-ball run also has a cadet who is in charge of planning, coordinating and supervising the execution, Boberg said.
After meeting up with the University of Utah ROTC cadets, 10 BYU cadets started to run in formation with the game ball for around two miles. Then, they split up into small groups of two to five cadets and ran in turn. Two army vans went with the cadets to supply water and help. One van went with the group of running cadets while the other van went one or two miles ahead and waited to switch the running group. However, the cadets have their own decision whether to run or to take turns and rest.
Cadet Jeff Netto, a senior studying linguistics, was in the first group of running cadets. This year is the first time Netto joined the game-ball run.
“I think this is pretty cool,” Netto said. “It’s a big challenge but you also show how much you love BYU.”
Cadet Jon Gillespie, a sophomore studying pre-management, and cadet Nate Christiansen, a junior studying Russian, said this is a good tradition for BYU and a good way to show support for BYU. They said the event shows more people are involved in the football game than just the players.
“We get to have a really good relationship with the cadets at the U,” said cadet Mike Ahlborn, a junior studying micro biology. “Even though we go to different schools, someday we’re going to serve in the military together.”