March 16, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. - Back in Tampa for the final day before the first outdoor track meet of the season! Everyone headed out to USF for a light pre-meet practice at 8:30, enjoying a relatively empty facility, compared to Wednesday anyway. After practice we had a little break before a unique opportunity: visiting the U.S. Special Operations Command.
With the exception of the cadets who were competing in the hammer throw in the afternoon, everyone loaded into the vans for MacDill Air Force Base at 12:30. Col. Toole instructed us to not bring any cameras, phones or any other recording/tracking device into the facility, so sorry - no pictures!
We were given guest passes before being taken through the secure SOCOM building to the large, somewhat lecture-hall style room. We all sat at desks which had fancy hi-tech multiple-screen computers, at least two phones, small microphones, a touch-screen pad, and all sorts of other gadgets, kind of like the NASA control rooms you see in movies. The front of the large hall had three giant movie-theater size screens - one with news headlines, one with a powerpoint presentation for us, and one which monitored sea traffic somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Two gentlemen explained what SOCOM does and what they do individually before fielding questions from the cadets and our staff. One of the cadets bravely asked about watching the Bin Laden capture on the big screens and the gentleman sort of shied away from the answer, but after he told us they had the technology to see a person's face in Afghanistan as clear as he could see our faces, we were pretty sure they were sitting front row for that!
Our trip out of the building seemed a lot shorter than going in, making a few us think that was on purpose to trip us up a little! It's SOCOM after all...always thinking.
After the briefing a couple vans went over to the PX complex so the cadets could try to get discounted tickets for Universal Studios for their off-day on Saturday. Apparently "discounted" meant $90, which, to me, doesn't mean discount, but some of them really want to see the Harry Potter section of the park I guess. The $1.49 ice cream cone from Baskin Robins was good enough for me.
We returned to the motel to settle down before grabbing dinner. We had a team meeting at 9 to go over the meet schedule and the specifics for traveling back and forth. Col. Toole informed us that it should be sunny with "the only thing that's going to rain tomorrow are PRs", which we all appreciated.
Friday is the USF Bulls Invitational which will be one of the largest meets we'll compete in all season. With 21 teams listed and some events having over 60 entrants, it should be a long day! Check back later for updates!
Pam Flenke, Army Athletic Communications, Track & Field Contact