The Camp Tontozona traditions of hiking Mount Kush and jumping in the creek have been widely publicized by local media, but something else caught the attention of senior running back Kyle Middlebrooks this year.
Middlebrooks said the team played strategy games, which allowed them to build team unity and understand each other’s perspectives.
A different perspective was something this ASU football team, filled with newcomers, needed. Middlebrooks said Tontozona, back for its second year after a five-year absence, provided that perspective.
“I thought it was a good four or five days for everybody,” Middlebrooks said. “I feel like right now we have a lot of new guys coming in, so we had to get them bonded.”
One of the newcomers is redshirt sophomore cornerback Lloyd Carrington, who transferred from the University of Pittsburgh.
Carrington, like many of the newcomers, has already made an impact early in fall camp and has been taking first-team reps.
Like Middlebrooks, Carrington said Tontozona provided an edge that Tempe couldn’t offer: seclusion.
“It was great to be able to come and sit down with my teammates and get to know them a little better,” he said.
Cell phones and all forms of technology were banned for the entire week, so it was truly just the team and the wilderness, something sophomore defensive lineman Jaxon Hood said helped the entire team become closer.
“It was fun just chilling with the other guys,” Hood said. “Whether it was playing dominos or cards or whatever, we had a great time bonding.”
The team still bonded over Mount Kush and creek jumping, which Carrington said was his favorite part of the experience.
“The most exciting thing for me was jumping into the creek,” Carrington said. “The water felt good. It was a nice little hike, and I even did a front flip.”
Carrington, an admitted city slicker, said Tontozona provided a mental front flip for him as well.
“It outlived my expectations,” Carrington said. “I had fun hiking the mountain and singing the fight song. It was a great experience for me.”
Carrington said he’s excited to come back next year and relive the experience as a veteran, helping next year’s batch of newcomers become acquainted with the team.
For now, though, he’s ready to go back to Tempe and focus on the last two weeks of fall camp.
“Oh yeah, I can’t wait to live my regular life again,” Carrington said. “It will just feel nice to sleep in my own bed again.”
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