PREP FOOTBALL: Miners take field trip to Beale Air Force Base | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Miners take field trip to Beale Air Force Base

When Brad Sparks took over the Nevada Union football program in late April his goals included building a winning program and creating a culture the school and community could be proud of.

"I plan on building a winning program. Not a team, a program," Sparks said at the time of his hiring. "Something we can all be proud of."

On Friday, his mission was aided by the United States Air Force.

Nevada Union's varsity football team spent time at Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County, getting a tour of various aircraft and learning a bit about what it takes to be a pilot in the Air Force.

"We (had) a great time," Sparks said. "Beale Air Force Base rolled out the red carpet and really made us feel at home here. They did a great job and I can't thank them enough."

In addition to being an educational experience for coaches and players, the trip was a way for the team to break from the rigors of summer conditioning and bond.

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"It's something different. It's something NU's never done," Sparks said. "… I wanted to bring them out here and show them firsthand how great our country is, and how we should really honor and be respectful of the people who day in and day out protect our freedom."

The team toured several types of aircraft and got some insight about the ins and outs of being an Air Force pilot, said Lt. Col. David Nance, who led the tour.

"We always look for opportunities to engage the local community and particularly young people like these football players," said Nance. "They are of a certain caliber and talent, and they are the type of people we want to motivate and hopefully captivate."

The Miners also held their photo day at the base, taking team and individual photos for the upcoming season.

Sparks said the trip to Beale was a way to build pride among the young Miners as they gear up for the 2018 season.

"We're trying to change the culture here," Sparks said. "We haven't been proud of who we are in a while and bringing them out here is part of that. We're going to be proud of who we are, of where we come from, of our country and of our community, and that's what this is all about."

The Miners get back to work Monday, the day Sac-Joaquin Section's football "dead-period" comes to a close. They will then have four weeks to prepare for their season opener at Yuba City Aug. 17.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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