The Versailles football team gets in tune with the great outdoors every single summer.
Over the course of two nights, the Tigers enjoy a team retreat on the property of Versailles coach Broc Silvers’ father in Linn Creek and it is a chance for the group to get away from the gridiron for a moment, form new bonds and friendships and have a little fun. Versailles senior Taylor Dobbins has been to three of those retreats and knows just how much it can bring the team together.
“What better way to talk to someone than just sitting down and having a campfire?” the senior stated. “In three years I’ve made some great friends just from the camp. My freshman year I did not talk to a lot of people, but as soon as I went to the camp I was friends with everybody and it was great. Now, I’ve become close with some of the freshmen as a senior and I think it is a great thing to do… It seems like just yesterday that I was the one scared to go with all the seniors.”
And talking around a campfire is just part of the fun. Players form teams amongst themselves and the outing begins with each of the teams picking a specific ground of the campsite. Sometimes challenges will be presented to the team captains such as making fire out of a rock and stick or not being able to sleep in their own tent and having to put up a makeshift tent with a tarp and bungee cords.
“It is not fun and spiders are everywhere,” Dobbins recalled with a smile.
The next morning typically begins with a nice morning run or simply hanging out, breakfast is consumed and then more team challenges get underway. The challenges may involve cutting trees, playing dodgeball or soccer or another run around the field. Dobbins’ favorite activity revolves around the “Cowboy Stew” of meats and vegetables that fuels the team for most of the weekend.
“They put all the leftover ‘Cowboy Stew’ in this giant hole, they put a bunch of little coins in there and you have to get exactly 69 cents. If you don’t, you have to run a lap and it gets really muddy and gross,” Dobbins stated. “It is really fun to watch. After that, we hang out some more, eat some more gross food and then the coaches talk to us and tell us what they want out of the season and that is great to hear. Then we get up, get all excited to go home and eat some real food so we go to Golden Corral after that.”
After three years of the retreats, Dobbins feels like the goal of unifying the team has certainly been met. Players go on to fight for each other on Friday nights and the players develop a stronger relationship with the coaches as well.
“It is a good way to get away, see how they are outside of football and get to know them,” the senior noted. “I think in the end when you are out here playing against other teams, you want to play harder for the guy next to you as opposed to not really knowing the guy.
“You actually get to find out a lot about the coaches, how they are and how much they like to punish you at the camp,” he added with a smile. “It is pretty fun for the losing team especially.”
There may be no more Tiger retreats left for Dobbins, but he wants the returning players and those to come in the future to stick together and be leaders as he was taught to do. He went on to add that it also would not hurt to hit the weight room to produce better results on the football field.
“It is important to keep everyone together, especially in your grade,” he said. “Keep everyone in it and also go to weights. I did not go as much as I should have junior year, but my senior year I went every day that I could go. It works out and it helps.”
A couple of days in the outdoors is certainly not a bad place to learn that accountability.