All this semester, four times a week, you can hear the Rocky Mountain College Football Team hard at work down in the Fortin weight room. For the Battlin’ Bears, training for the 2015 season is well underway.
This group of Bears will rely heavily on its experienced corps of junior college transfers, the vast majority of whom hail from California. Going into the new season, these players have to first tackle the transition from the California sunshine to Montana’s Big Sky country.
Being in a new state has offered many challenges for the transfer students that make up the team. “The winter has been the hardest part, with the snow and having to wear a bunch of warm clothes,” says Linebacker Anthony Carrion, who transferred to Rocky last summer from Cerritos College. He gives football credit for making the transition easier after moving to Montana. “Football keeps your mind off being homesick, or missing California. We always have something going on as a team – meetings, workouts, and practice – so you don’t have time to be homesick.”
For some, Montana has been a strange land from the moment they got off the plane. For Dushawn McDaniel from Sacramento City College, Montana was an unknown state prior to his arrival. He said, “I was expecting rural, country, cows. But then I got to Billings and saw that it is different.” Anthony Carrion also attests to Montana’s unique culture, “You have to get used to how they talk out here, and you have to teach them your words.”
On the field, California transfers have to deal with a new style of the game they love. Many of the players described how the style of play at Rocky is more of a traditional, pro-style. “Every team in the Frontier Conference has a big power back, and that’s new. Back home, everyone runs the spread offense and there’s a faster game speed,” says Linebacker Will Peppard, also from Cerritos College. For Dushawn, playing in Montana has brought a new experience with coaching, “I love the coaches here. They actually coach you up, they help more.” For Ryan Steska, from Saddleback College, the hardest part of playing in Montana has been playing away from friends and family. “We end up leaving the field before everyone else after the game, while everyone else is talking to family.”
While the fate of the upcoming campaign is still uncertain, the California transfers who are stepping into leadership roles this season beam with confidence. “We’re going to kill it,” exclaimed Will Peppard, as he exchanged
a high five with a teammate. According to Dushawn McDaniel, the team will rely on its “chemistry” this season. That chemistry is an interesting attribute of this Rocky Football Team, which consists of players from all over the country. The team is a concoction of in-state, out-of-state, and transfers. But according to McDaniel, the team has found a winning formula.
The confidence on display speaks to the team’s hard work thus far in the off-season. “We’ve really stepped it up this semester in the weight room,” says Senior Linebacker Anderson O’tuafi from Chaffey College. According
to running back Frank Brown, from Antelope Valley College, the team is at work, “Calm like a Bomb.” To clarify his analogy, the senior running back explained, “A bomb is calm right? It goes tick-tock, tick-tock, it’s steady at work. Then when it’s ready to go… Boom.”
Rocky students and fans can find out what happens when the bomb goes off on August 29th when the Battlin’ Bears take on Dickinson State University to open the season.