OU Navy ROTC runs game ball to Dallas

By Julianna Parker

Transcript Staff Writer

Every year, there are unmistakable signs a certain weekend in October is nearing. Oklahoma pride is flaunted and football fever runs high as fans flock to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry.

And one more tradition reigns before the game: the OU Navy ROTC's annual football run to Dallas.

About 60 ROTC members gathered Thursday morning to start the relay in which the students take turns carrying the game ball nearly 200 miles to Dallas.

Football coach Bob Stoops came to the ceremony that launched the run 8 a.m. Thursday. He addressed the ROTC students, thanking them for their dedication and sacrifice to their country. Members of the Pride of Oklahoma marching band played rousing OU anthems as Stoops handed off the game ball to Battalion Commander Stephen Glenn, who ran out of the OU armory, officially starting the run.

The football run kicked off the Toys for Tots charity drive. Each ROTC student, and even Stoops himself, donated toys to the campaign Thursday morning.

The students each run at least three miles. The record last year was 43 miles, and some students are trying to break it this year, Glenn said.

Sophomore Miranda Becker is a member of the 20-mile club in this, her first year on the run. She said Thursday morning she expected to be able to handle the 20 miles because in ROTC she has physical training every week.

This is Glenn's fourth year to participate in the run. He ran three miles the first year and 10 each year after. The event fosters "unit cohesion, esprit de corps," Glenn said.

The numbers have increased this year from 40 to 60, he said, mostly because of a large freshman class.

"We have a lot more people this year; there's a lot of excitement," said Sr. Chief Anna Gonzales, supply officer at the OU Navy ROTC.

They take it in five shifts of 12 students, with a van driving alongside the runner carrying replacements, running down Highway 77 Thursday.

They stayed in Ardmore overnight, and continued this morning along back roads to Dallas.

The University of Texas ROTC runs a football up to Dallas, too. The two ROTC groups will meet at the Cotton Bowl 3 p.m. today.

"We meet outside the gates and we run through together," Gonzales said.

Then, the two groups play a game of flag football.

When asked if he was excited about the run, junior ROTC member Derek Carter pointed out the run was for a good cause, but admitted "I'm more excited about the flag football game, actually."

The winning flag football team gets a trophy.

"I believe Texas has had it two years in a row, so we're trying to get our trophy back," Gonzales said.

There's definitely a rivalry between the two groups, but it doesn't get out of hand, Glenn said.

"Overall, we're playing for the same team, so (there's) mutual respect," he said.

Julianna Parker

366-3550

jparker@normantranscript.com

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