SNOHOMISH — Glacier Peak football coach Nick Bender incorporated a new aspect into his team’s offseason program this summer.
Bender, a former Marine, partnered with the Travis Manion Foundation to bring military veterans to the Grizzlies’ training sessions each Friday for a six-week span. TMF is a nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to develop character in future generations.
The veterans led Glacier Peak’s players through what Bender described as “brutal” workouts, and then split into groups to share valuable experiences and life lessons.
“Just listening to the military veterans talk about perseverance and bravery and all those things, they apply to so much more than just football,” Grizzlies senior quarterback Ayden Ziomas said. “It was really humbling just to see what these people go through and how mentally tough they are.”
Bender said the group discussions also included opportunities for players to share their own experiences and struggles.
“I’m a firm believer that when you start to open up, you start to care for each other,” he said. “And when you care for each other, you may learn to love each other. And when you learn to love each other, then great things can happen.”
Glacier Peak concluded the six-week TMF program with a community-service event at nearby Willis Tucker Park, where players and coaches helped clear part of an overgrown forest to make way for a running trail.
“It was fun to get to work toward something that’s bigger than us,” Grizzlies senior Evan Mannes said. “And it brought us together as a group. … It was a really good bonding experience.”