Mizzou's mission: Boot camp bonding

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
11:30
AM ET
The hardest part wasn't lugging the 50-pound sacks around for a 4.5-mile hike. It wasn't hauling tires or carrying metal poles. It wasn't even working up the courage to shoot M16s out of a bunker.

No, the hardest part of Missouri's overnight boot camp with the Missouri National Guard came in the quiet of the night.

As in the real quiet, when not a gadget was stirring -- not even a cellphone.

"Man, the last time I couldn't use my phone, I don't know. Maybe before I had a phone when I was a kid,'' said Mizzou senior Earnest Ross. "I'm a mama's boy too. I call my mom every night. But our phones weren't working.''

And that was exactly Frank Haith's plan when he schlepped his team on a four-hour bus ride from Columbia, Mo., to just south of Joplin -- to force the Tigers to unplug from technology and plug in to one another.

The Tigers' roster includes four freshmen, two transfers and one former junior college player, a hodgepodge group that Haith believes needs two critical things to succeed: togetherness and leadership.

To read more of Dana O'Neil's story, click here.

Dana O'Neil | email

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