Home FOOTBALL Football players join veterans for annual ‘ruck’ walk

Football players join veterans for annual ‘ruck’ walk


Ask any player what would they rather be doing instead of going to another football practice in hot August weather and the answer would be almost anything else.

At Rancho Bernardo High, the answer is “Go on a Ruck.’’

Say what?

The Broncos embraced the concept started by head coach Tristan McCoy years ago called “Ruck with a Veteran.”

A Ruck is a six-mile walk with a 20-pound ruck sack, known as a backpack in the civilian world, as a member of Team Red, White and Blue.

This year’s Ruck for the Broncos took place Saturday morning.

The Ruck, sponsored by the CIF San Diego Section and Riddell, is mandatory for all varsity players at Rancho Bernardo and optional for players from both the freshmen and junior varsity teams.

Starting in Carmel Valley, players rucked their way across Highway 56 to Westview High, the finish line to donate enough items in their ruck sacks like toothbrushes and razors to supply almost 400 veterans at the Veterans Village.

The Ruck took between 90 minutes and two hours.

Westview High, which joined the Broncos back when the event began, returned for another Ruck along with Mt. Carmel and Torrey Pines. McCoy estimated the other three schools each had around 100 players involved.

“Some guys walk it and some guys run it,’’ McCoy said. “Some veterans are wounded vets and some are just old-timers.’’

McCoy had just become a head coach nine years ago when Team Red, White and Blue inquired if the Broncos had any interest in Rucking with a Veteran.

Now nationwide, the program started at Rancho Bernardo and in Indianapolis.

“Living in San Diego, we have so many veterans,’’ said McCoy, a former Broncos linebacker. “The kids have fun because first of all they are getting out of a day of practice.

“The week of the Ruck we have veterans come in and tell their story to the players. It makes quite an impact because they hear and see the people involved.’’

McCoy noted there are three veterans coaching in the Rancho Bernardo program. Ross Blain coaches the outside linebackers on varsity, Adrian Flores handles the varsity’s running back and Dexter Martin coaches the defensive linemen on the freshmen team. Blain and Martin are former Marines while Flores is ex-Army.

“This is a real life lesson for the kids because their stories are right in front of them,’’ McCoy said. “The players may have been from four different teams, but today they were all Team Red, White and Blue.

“This is a great pause from practice to learn about life, more important stuff like that.’’

When Rancho Bernardo visits Westview on Oct. 11, it will be Team Red, White and Blue Game.

Each team invites several veterans to participate as honorary captains. A portion of the night’s concession revenue is donated to Team Red, White and Blue.

“We had a veteran show up at practice one day, asking to talk to me,’’ McCoy recalled. “He wanted to talk about the team.

“I hired him as a coach on the spot. He said doing that saved him at a time when he had no idea what he was going to do in the civilian world.

“There is no better place for veterans than around young men either as a football coach or a referee.’’

McCoy said the Broncos will continue Rucking with a Veteran “as long as Team Red, White and Blue wants us.’’

He added he’d like to attract even more football teams to join the rucking crowd in the future.

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