Brown: Tontozona memorable, just not feasible - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brown: Tontozona memorable, just not feasible

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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2008 11:35 pm | Updated: 11:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

I'll never forget that first mile-long walk down the dirt road from Kohl's Ranch to the end of the line in 1983 - and staring, open-mouthed, at my first ASU football practice at Camp Tontozona.

ASU ending Camp Tontozona tradition

I gawked at the incredible pines straining for the skies and the tip of Mt. Kush. I loved the hypnotic babbling of Tonto Creek interrupted only by the sounds of coaches' whistles and crunching pads. I watched those ominous clouds rolling in to threaten each afternoon practice, usually followed by a magnificent sunset.

And I will miss the tales of raids on the freshman cabin, wild animals coaxed into coaches' offices and knowing that every August, the Sun Devils would gather to renew the chase of another football championship.

But lovely as it is, Tontozona's beauty can't overcome its shortcomings as a facility designed to prepare a 21st-century football team. The weather, the field conditions, the logistics and an $8.4 million, climate-controlled bubble finally did what every coach since Frank Kush always wanted to do - keep his team out of the woods.

It makes sense. It had to happen sooner or later. But that doesn't mean it doesn't tug at the heart and soul of every player, fan and writer who will never forget that first glimpse of football in paradise.

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