Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Better!" Coach Mike Wood

Friday, August 18, 2017:

Mike Wood's quote that is the title of this blogpost is perfect for what we all experienced today.

Who would have guessed it?

The day started simply
enough with solid breakfast
in our five star
Radisson Paraiso Hotel

I had time to admire the upwards
view in the hotel's lobby

Today's agenda started with a
10:00 a.m. pick-up for the drive
to the Heróico Colegio Militar

We were going to meet with some of the American football coaches at this historic military academy that is Mexico's West Point.

We arrived on campus on a
GREAT day for American football!

Yes, this is the right place

This Humvee would be our transport
around the 400 hectare campus

That's about 1,000 acres!

Soldiers in the back

Generals in the front

Of course there were cannons

Military statues too

We had to enter the campus
through a back gate

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's President, was due on campus for some official state business.

Arriving at the football stadium

Home of the Aguiluchos
"In the army, as in sports, values,
discipline and competitive spirit
are exalted"

Excellent Aguiluchos helmets

Brand new 2017 game jersey

Lots of good equipment

Aguiluchos Pride!

In their spartan weight room

The American football program here is only five years old and has room for much improvement. These dedicated coaches are doing all in their power to improve the facilities every year.

Maybe the President Peña Nieto was on campus to sign a bill giving the American football program 10,000,000 Mexican pesos for a new weight room.

Our Joey Fuentes holding
a sand filled football used
in their training regimen

Aguiluchos RB Coach
Marco Pacheco Patraca
explaining the state of the
Aguiluchos' program to us

Here are the basics of the Aguiluchos situation:

1. There are 600 cadets on campus going through a rigorous academic and physical regimen daily.

2. The American football team fields about 87 players.

3. The average Aguilucho player weighs 76 kilos or about 168 lbs. and has 1.7 seasons of playing experience.

4. The best squat recorded by a player is 90 kilos/200 lbs.

5. The best bench press recorded by a player is 63 kilos/140 lbs.

6. Players lack of the type of nutrition needed for the sport. The food offered on campus is good but basic for athletic needs we were told.

7. Lack of rest is also an issue for all of the cadets on campus as they are lucky if they get six hours of sleep each night.

8. The big plusses for the team are the disciplined, high character players who are in tremendous shape and possess great speed. They also have dedicated coaches who are hungry to learn more about our great game in order to take the Aguiluchos to new heights.

Coach Jesús Sánchez
at the white board

President Enrique Peña Nieto's
helicopter touching down
at the football stadium

Mike Wood gets the photo credit here as he was able to go out to see what all the noise was about while I was going over Special Teams with the coaches.

We took a lunch break and boarded the Humvee for a short drive to coach Marco Patraca's on-campus home where we all enjoyed equal doses of good home cooking and excellent hospitality.

I only at three plates of the main dish.

Post lunch photo

L. to R.: Bart Iaccarino, Mario Pacheco Patraca, Joey Fuentes, Mike Wood, Marco Pacheco Patraca, Jesús Sánchez, Jonathan Ornelas, Jonathan Foullon and George Contreras

After this photo was taken, we had to say adios to Bart who was returning to his home in Cambrils, Spain earlier than originally planned due to yesterday's terrorist violence both there and in Barcelona.

Good man.

Jonathan "El Teniente" Ornelas
and Mike at a site dedicated
to paratrooper training

"Hey, let's go up for a quick jump!"

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Cooler heads prevailed.

With Mike in the back of the Humvee

Our post-lunch detour took us through the rough terrain used to train the cadets for both physical fitness and jungle fighting.

This country road didn't look too bad


It was an action packed, bumpy, E-ticket type drive down this mountain without the benefit of seat belts.

We all agreed that flipping the Humvee was a real possibility but we got back on firmer ground without a scratch.

Back at the stadium for more
football clinic talks

The short tunnel from the stadium
to the American football offices

Mike talked defense in one room while Jesús and I talked offense and offensive line fundamentals in the other room.

After we were done with the afternoon sessions of our clinic, we re-boarded the Humvee to see more of the facilities.

They have horses on campus to
train cadets in traditional
cavalry tactics

Of course they also train the cadets learning modern motorized cavalry tactics as well.

Laurie would have liked
to see these horses exercising

First the horse
After that the horse
And finally the horse

The value of Honor is stressed
everywhere on the campus

HUGE Mexican flag

We got to visit the campus museum

The Eagle and the Serpent
Mexico's iconic symbol

By the way, an Aguilucho is an eagle.

An old flag

Lots of fine exhibits

Now, THAT'S a helmet!

Portrait depicting the last
cavalry charge in
Mexican Army history

Military Swords

They are always a big hit with me.

Another ancient flag

Many of the on-campus buildings
are loosely patterned after some of
Mexico's historic archeological sites

The Academy's current site was established in 1976 after having been housed in several other sites around the nation.

Photo of the Aguiluchos American
football team in action last Fall

Their opponent?

Why none other than the United States Naval Academy's Sprint team.

Collegiate Sprint football programs are popular on the American east coast and with our military academies.

These Sprint clubs play American football with one major stipulation, no one can weigh more than 200 lbs.

The Aguiluchos played the Annapolis club in a home and home series the past two years.

They will travel to West Point next December to play the Black Knights of the Hudson's Sprint team. Army will make the return trip to Mexico City in 2018.

The Aguiluchos are in the planning stages of competing against our Air Force Academy's Sprint team in 2019 and 2020.

How much fun is that!

Nice carving by a
Presidential desk

A closer look at the woodwork

Feeling the Presidential vibe

A photo of
President Enrique Peña Nieto
at the same desk

I should have worn a tie.

For the Honor of Mexico

Our visit to the Heróico Colegio Militar was just about over.

We wanted to make one last stop at the souvenir shop to purchase a final memory of our incredible day before going to a college football game scheduled to start in about an hour.

I bought a hat and as we started to walk back to our car to drive to the game, this happened . . .


So much for going to sit in an uncovered stadium to watch an American football game.

The game itself did start in decent weather on the other side of this gigantic city but was stopped mid-way when this intense tropical storm arrived at the stadium sometime after kickoff.

Torrential rains, hale, thunder
AND lightning, this storm had it all

Huddling in the shelter outside
the souvenir shop from the storm

Cool but hard to get home

Still safe from the storm

We made the short, quick run from this point to Mario's car for the trip back to our hotel.

We all enjoyed a tremendous experience today visiting with good people with a passion for our great game and seeing/experiencing much of what this great institution has to offer the dedicated young men and women of Mexico.

When we arrived back at the hotel, a press conference was about to start.

What's up?

A Press Conference to introduce the signing of a new player to the Pumas soccer roster.

Who is that guy?

He is the newest member of the
Pumas soccer team, one
Chelo Diaz

The photo credit on this last picture goes to the ever bold Mike Wood again. As the Ohio State Buckeye News field reporter in Mexico City, he sat in on the Press Conference.

As he left the Press Conference he shook the Pumas President's hand and said "Good job."

Thus in one day Mike was a football field away from the Mexican President and shook the Pumas President's hand.

I wonder which of these two Presidents is more powerful in this country.

Probably the Pumas President we all thought at dinner.

What an amazing day and it was all due to American football.

As Mike Wood said, "Just when you thought it couldn't get any better!"



David said...

This looks like it has been an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

George said...

David, it has indeed been one of the greatest American football adventure of my life.

It was a 100% FIRST CLASS operation from beginning to end