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West Point Football: Black Knights to Practice in Early Morning in 2012

Coach Rich Ellerson instructs players during a summer practice (K.Kraetzer).
Coach Rich Ellerson instructs players during a summer practice (K.Kraetzer).
Ken KraetzerCorrespondent IIJuly 21, 2012

Army head coach Rich Ellerson conducted spring practices this year before classes at West Point.  The idea went over so well, the Black Knights will practice before class throughout the 2012 season.

This news was passed by West Point sports information director Brian Gunning in a call.  The typical schedule will be:

- 6:30 a.m.: taping

- 6:50 to 8:45 a.m.: meetings and on field

- 9:00 a.m.: breakfast

- 9:35 a.m.: head to class

Normally at West Point, a bugle sounds the start of the day and formations are held to go over plans for the day and inspections are made of uniforms and the like.  Then in their companies, they march to Washington Hall, where all 4,000-plus cadets eat as a group in a short amount of time before the start of their academic day.

Imagine that the football players, especially the freshmen (known of course as plebes), will have to make this up in the afternoon and be able to join the corps for the evening meal and activity.

Gunning described that the morning practice schedule will allow the cadets to participate in more afternoon classes and have time to meet with professors later in the day.  The morning practice schedule required the players' class schedules to be prepared so they would not have class times starting before 9:30 a.m.  Normally, classes at West Point begin as early as 7:30 a.m. 

Nutrition and hydration is a concern for the players, at a school where meals are eaten quickly in short, regimented periods.  Breakfast will be provided after practice before the players head to morning classes.

Keeping weight on the players, especially linemen, is a constant struggle at West Point, which trains soldiers to operate in extremely harsh and often very hot climates.  Like all cadets, the players must pass regular physical fitness tests, which includes a relatively quick time for the two-mile run.  They must also participate in rigorous Army military training, which is often conducted in very warm climates. 

We interviewed an officer in the New York National Guard for my radio show recently who was stationed in Kuwait—he said it was 122 degrees on July 4th. 

Last year, the West Point defense line was whittled down by injuries to players weighing 230 to 250 pounds.  Finding bigger but still the fast, athletic players the coaches like was a goal during the march spring practice and going into summer practice starting the second week of August.


Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, N.Y. and Sons of the American Legion Radio.

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