HOUSTON, Texas - Braden Mann can smile this holiday season. As a member of the Texas A&M roster, his past four years have seen the Christmas season usually traveling towards a bowl game. Away from the family, the senior punter cannot always be there for the moments that bring joy to others.
But this season, Mann—like many other Aggies, were able to spend time with their families early on Christmas morning. The native Houstonian was able to drive himself up from College Station in preparation for the 2019 Texas Bowl.
"My family actually did get a chance to come into practice and I got to spend time with them," Mann recounted about the holidays. "That was nice."
Like many, multiple A&M players will be away from the ones they love in preparation for Friday's matchup against Oklahoma State. Then again, some consider themselves lucky to be a part of a different family.
The football family in College Station.
Growing as a team and bonding, A&M players consider themselves more than members of The 12th Man — becoming brothers in the process. As the season moves on, players feel welcome thanks to the support of the coaching staff to make moments feel like home.
"You form this other family you get to spend time with and we just kind of make the most of it," Mann said. "We go out to dinner together as a team everything so we just kind of take the time together we have as a team and make the most of it."
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Although some were able to see their families, others in the company of the Aggie program. A&M coach Jimbo Fisher sees moments such as these an opportunity for players to appreciate what they have and the success of a productive season.
"I always say if you're not on the road during the holidays, you're in trouble," Fisher said Wednesday. "That's just the way it is. I mean, think about all the basketball games and what we all do on Thanksgiving. Everybody sits there and eat and wants to go watch football."
As A&M preps for one final game, Fisher is looking into the now. With his family in Houston and his other family ready to pick up a win, it's a positive, yet sullen moment for the coach.
A bittersweet moment, Fisher recalls how every bowl is the final game for the roster at hand. Players will transfer while others will graduate or head on to the next part of their careers.
Perhaps the best Christmas present for him is cherishing the moments with the team and along the way pick up the victory—just one last time.
"You want to end it great for them," Fisher said. "It's a great, positive experience for your guys learning how to prepare for a bowl game, how to mentally get ready, how to have the preparations because that's an art.
"It's a great feeling going into the offseason that you had success in the game. It's great for your program. There's no doubt."