K-State's football team plays games at The Main Event in Tempe, Arizona on December 25, 2013. K-State plays Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on December 28, 2013. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
December 26, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
K-State football's trip to Arizona has been a balancing act so far.
The team has balanced enjoying the holidays with practice and preparation for this weekend's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and while the schedule is a busy one, the team is focused on trying to earn its first bowl win in over a decade.
"There's a business side (to the trip). We haven't won a bowl game in who knows how long, so everybody's looking forward to that," wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. "So it's a pleasure trip, but it's also a business trip. When we get the chance to come out here and practice, focus or watch film, that's what we've got to do because you only get maybe an hour or two on that time every day. So as much as we're going to have fun on this trip, we want to be able to win at the end of the day."
Defensive end Ryan Mueller agreed that despite the events and activities, focusing on preparing for Michigan is the most important thing this week.
"You have to keep your focus on the task at hand which is winning a bowl game," explained Mueller. "Coach Snyder has done a nice job saying, 'Here's our event, this is what we are going to. Enjoy it. Right after the event is over with, it's right back to the purpose of why you're here; let's win a bowl game.' He's done a great job of keeping our minds set on that, and that's definitely the goal here."
Full of focus and intensity, this week's practices have been among the year's best, the team has said, and after yesterday's practice, the team met up at the Main Event, an arcade in Tempe for an afternoon full of excitement.
From bowling to laser tag, the Wildcats took part in a little friendly competition yesterday afternoon before their Christmas dinner.
"Its been great, but it's nothing we're not used to," linebacker Tre Walker said about spending time with his teammates. "With our schedule the way it is, we're always with each other. We're all brothers and that's how it is, but it's fun and we've definitely been cherishing our moments together this week."
In one end of the arcade safety Ty Zimmerman and quarterback Jake Waters took on tight end Zach Trujillo and wide receiver Curry Sexton in a game of shuffleboard (Zimmerman and Waters won), while on the other end of the arcade teammates gathered and competed in the NBA Hoops Bonus game - Walker's favorite game of the day.
Guys like offensive lineman B.J. Finney and wide receivers Kyle Klein, Evan Loomis and Stephen Johnson spent their time on the bowling lanes and defensive lineman Travis Britz decided he wanted to try and play every arcade game.
"That's my goal," he laughed as he stepped up to a new game.
After the arcade it was back to the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass for a special Christmas dinner.
"It's interesting, you kind of feel like you don't deserve (all the attention) in a way," linebacker Blake Slaughter said yesterday afternoon as he prepared for practice. "You're just this team from Kansas, but they have rolled out the red carpet and it's been phenomenal. We've had a lot of fun, met a lot of good people - they do it right down here in Phoenix."
Ham, turkey and sides were served to the team last night, and magician Luke Brady provided an evening of entertainment.
Card tricks, coin tricks, hypnosis - you name it - and Brady had his audience laughing and wondering with every magic trick.
At the Christmas dinner, football head coach Bill Snyder stepped on stage for a few words for his team and thanked all those who helped make the bowl week possible.
After Snyder, K-State Athletics Director John Currie also stepped up and said a few words at the dinner.
"He's got 177 victories, now let's go get 178," Currie said to Snyder, and with that he shook the beloved coach's hand and it was back to focusing on a bowl victory.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.