GLORIETA – The New Mexico Stars have been enjoying an unusual training camp experience at Glorieta’s 2,400-acre outdoor athletic camp.
First-year coach Dominic Bramante, quarterbacks coach Matt Caward and the rest of the staff chose this isolated locale roughly 70 miles north of Albuquerque to help their team prepare for the 12-game Lone Star Football League season that begins March 14.
They’ve been sequestered here 24 hours a day since Saturday, and it’s been a lot more than just about X’s and O’s and getting into football shape.
“We spend an incredible amount of time throughout the day in character development,” Caward said. “So we’re building our guys to be men of character, men of esteem and great athletes all at the same time.
“It’s a dream come true to be up here. There isn’t a team in the (five-team) league that’s able to do what we’re doing. … We’re with them sunrise to sunset and doing more than just practice on the field and holding meetings.”
The fee paid by the Stars for their stay at Glorieta Camps was only about $3,500, Bramante said, with roughly 30-32 players and coaches on hand.
“Glorieta Camps sponsored us – giving us the fields and the lodging. All we had to pay for was the food,” he said. “If we had stayed in Albuquerque and had camp, it would have cost us double.”
Besides the scheduled three-a-day, 90-minute practices that run through Thursday, also on the docket are such team-building activities as a tug of war, volleyball and maybe a movie.
Dodgeball already was a big hit.
“It was as intense as intense gets,” Bramante said of Sunday night’s game in a gym at the facility. “They were in pure joy playing. The athleticism was mind-boggling. This is what playing ‘in a zone’ is all about. If they can play in a (football) game with that mindset that’s when we’re cooking with oil.
“My quarterback (Andrew McGlory), meanwhile, had told me before the game that he got dinged up in practice earlier in the day, but, let me tell you, on the floor he was doing the merengue all night long.”
McGlory, who was brought in to compete with ex-Lobo Donovan Porterie for the starting QB job, beamed when recalling the festivities.
“It was a lot of fun,” said McGlory, who played at Prairie View A&M. “It was like coach said would happen – the little kid in all of us kicked in, and we were oblivious to the rest of the world.”
Receiver James Cleveland, who played at Houston and Iowa, was on the painful receiving end more than once.
“It was as vicious as a dodgeball game can get,” he said. “I don’t have any welts or anything; I was hit in the face, though. Twice actually. I was reaching down and as I was looking up, it was ‘Bam!’ But it was fun.”
What’s not been as much fun is fighting for a roster spot while working at an altitude of 7,500-plus feet.
Linebacker Roosevelt Falls, who played at Louisiana Tech, has had training camp experience with the NFL Texans and Falcons in 2011. But even that didn’t prepare him for Glorieta.
“You can catch your second wind a lot easier in Louisiana,” he said. “But here, when you get tired, you’re tired. Getting your second wind up here? That doesn’t work.
“It’s been a big adjustment for me. I barely could breathe when I got through with a flight of stairs going to my room the first day. I can’t wait to see how our opponents are going to do when they come up here (Rio Rancho) to play us.”
Bramante said he was proud of his team’s work ethic.
“We had a particularly hard practice this morning (Tuesday),” he said by phone after afternoon drills. “I asked the players if they wanted to go through a walk-through for the next practice. And they told me: ‘Let’s do a full regular practice. Don’t baby us.’ ”
NOTES: Porterie, who was just cut by Pittsburgh of the Arena Football League over the weekend, was scheduled to report to the Stars on Tuesday night, Bramante said. … Bramante’s team will play a team of metro firefighters and police – the Metro Stars – at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Santa Ana Star Center.