Camp Rantoul: A Vision of Optimism

Tony O'BrienContributor IJuly 22, 2009

It's that time of the year in central Illinois.  The college basketball season has been over for three months now and the locals got their fix of baseball as the Cardinals and Cubs have played several games this summer. 

The University of Illinois Fighting Illini football team is becoming the talk of the town as the low key preseason training camps are just around the corner.  As thousands of students are preparing to move back to Champaign to resume their studies, there is a small group of student athletes already settled into their dorms. 

However, we are not talking about the crowded dorms on campus; these dorm rooms are located 13 miles north of "Chambana" on highway US-45.

Tucked away in the northern part of the county you will find the village of Rantoul and the vacant Chanutes Air Force base that once flourished until it was closed in 1993. 

However, when the Zooker arrived in town he decided this would be a great place to hold the preseason camp away from distractions.  The small town does a great job of embracing the Fighting Illini for three weeks before the season starts when the team renews its annual meeting with Missouri in St. Louis. 

Appropriately dubbed as "Camp Rantoul," fans can go watch daily workouts for free any time of the day while the team is out training.

It is at Camp Rantoul where the season begins and in many cases will determine how the season will end.  This is one of the first chances for the team to get together and build a season-long game plan and meet the incoming freshmen class for the first time. 

I urge fans to take time to make it to Rantoul and watch the team practice. In many cases the coaches and players will come over and sign autographs and talk to their supporters.

Stay safe and GO ILLINI!!