Eleven Duke offensive lineman and assistant strength coach Marcus Johnson are planning a team building trip to Ethiopia to drill a fresh water well and help build some cohesiveness within their unit.
Last season, the offensive line finished in the middle of the pack nationally in sacks allowed (#43 – 1.58 sacks per game), and provided the time necessary to finish 28th in the country in passing offense (272 yards per game).
Guard Dave Harding got the ball rolling with an idea a few years ago and recently they were able to secure a total of $45,000 from private donors within the University to make the trip a reality. While on the trip, the team will also visit an orphanage and hold a sports camp for kids in the area.
“The coaches always say, ‘Go through camp…and everybody, you bleed together,’ and it just builds camaraderie. I think people are going to be challenged, mostly mentally and spiritually with what they’re seeing. To be able to talk that through with each other and experience that together is something that no other college offensive line or football team will be able to experience or has experienced in a long time.” Harding said.
The logistics of the actual project are what’s really interesting. While one group actually physically pounds the pipe into the ground, the others will anchor a rope attached to a pulley system to help make it a little easier…regardless, it’s going to be no walk in the park.
“Offensive linemen, I call them brothers. To see how your brothers bond with you in a different situation, you get to see what guys are really like. Can you really trust them? Are they accountable? I think it’ll teach not only them, but myself as well, just what to expect from a guy, if things do get tough over there.” assistant strength coach Marcus Johnson explained.
Head coach David Cutcliffe is also huge supporter of the trip. “The best part of it is, it makes them aware of a responsibility that we all have to help others around the world, not just at home. It should be a big eye-opening experience for all of those young men.”