The Kansas Wesleyan University football team is forming a bond with a team of soldiers in Afghanistan.
As part of new head coach Matt Drinkall’s “Storm the Beaches” program, the team has adopted Fort Riley’s, 1st Infantry Division, Combat Aviation Brigade, 601st Aviation Support Battalion.
The team gathered Tuesday night to prepare care packages for the soldiers. The packages include personal letters and items from individual players, jerky, peanuts, DVDs, and cookies purchased from donors in the Girl Scout’s Cookie Share Program. The packages will be presented to the soldiers, who are heading back home in a month, during a welcome home event.
Rachel Hinde, Communications and Military Affairs Director for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, tells KSAL News that coach Drinkall approached her with the idea of reaching out to the soldiers. She says that the correspondence will be a great way to bring a small piece of home to the soldiers, no matter where they are.
Drinkall tells KSAL News that the “Storm the Beaches” program is designed to pull the team closer together. The name is inspired by the beaches of Normandy, and by Daytona Beach, where the NAIA National Championship Football Game is played. Along with supporting the soldiers, the players have divided into teams and are supporting and competing with one another. They get points for doing things like getting good grades, being on time to class and workouts, and community service.
In 2011, KWU, along with St. John’s Military School, Central High, Schilling, Stewart and Sunset Elementary partnered with the battalion in the Army Adopt-A-School Program. It involves soldiers volunteering their time with students, contributing military resources, and demonstrating character qualities such as leadership, courage, citizenship and responsibility.