As if New Mexico's infamous Pit wasn't daunting enough, members of the Lobos' football team partake in grueling conditioning by sprinting up sand pits this summer. Those who struggle are aided up the hill by their teammates.
2 of 11Bob Rosato/SI
Current Buffalo Bill and former Redskin TE Robert Royal assumed the lead role in team karate exercises at LSU in 2001. The marshal arts training, not only improved the team's agility, it also made them tougher.
3 of 11Peter Gregoire/SI
Virginia Tech NASCAR
The 2001 Virginia Tech Hokies knew how to have a good time off the field. Players (from back left) Matt Wuncek, Steve Demasi, Bob Slowikowski, Bronwing Wynn, Ben Taylor, and Brian Welch enjoyed a hearty tailgate before a NASCAR race.
4 of 11Neil Brake/Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt Softball League
What better way to prepare for the season than a friendly game of softball? The Commodores set up a players-only league this summer and many nights were filled with laughter, home runs and, of course, competition. Here, kicker Leon Solimani tries to get to first base, while offensive tackle Eric Hensley tries to protect his territory.
5 of 11Courtesy of Illinois
Illinois Charity for Children
In June, members of the Illinois football team helped raise more than $10,000 for the Cunning Children's home, a Champaign facility that takes in wards of the state. "It's a real rewarding feeling," said Illinois offensive lineman Matt Maddox, who organized the event. "I felt like I had accomplished something important."
6 of 11Bill Frakes/SI
Mississippi State Boot Camp
Mississippi State strength coach Mark Grant had the right idea when he had the Bulldogs get down and dirty in the summer of 2001. He set up a boot camp and had his troops crawl through mud, up ropes and sweat in the 100 degree heat. The Bulldogs weren't the most talented team in the SEC, but no team had more bite.
7 of 11Courtesy of Florida State
FSU's James Coleman with Tiger
Florida State fullback James Coleman gets cozy with a baby tiger in a Lion Park near Johannesburg, South Africa. Coleman and several other Seminoles were in South Africa this summer to visit elementary schools and perform community service. "The tigers were great. I loved the lion park," Coleman said. "I was kind of scared of this one baby tiger. I was playing with it like it was a dog, but they play a little rougher. He was gnawing at my leg and ripping up my warm-up pants."
8 of 11Robert Beck/SI
During some down time in preparation for the 2001 season, the Oregon Ducks went rafting together in the Willamette River. The bonding paid off as the Ducks finished the year 11-1.
9 of 11Courtesy of UNC
UNC's Melik Brown Football Team Picnic
(From back left) North Carolina's Larry Edwards, E.J. Wilson, Bryan Bixon, Barrington Edwards, Richie Rich and Melik Brown pose togther at the annual UNC football team summer picnic.
10 of 11Jeffrey Lowe/SI
Illinois Softball League
Every Wednesday night during the summer of 2001, the Illinois Fighting Illini took their swings in a players-only softball league. The games were highly competitive and balls -- and egos -- were flying out of the infield.
11 of 11Bill Frakes/SI
Troy Slip n' Slide
What better way to bond than doing slip n' slide? All summer, players at Troy let loose and barreled down a pair of 3x50 tarps. What started with 10-15 players quickly grew. "It's pretty amusing to drive up to see a 300-pound offensive linemen riding down a hill with [soap] all over their body, with grass, mud, you name it," said Troy's Will Chambliss.
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