Camp T return fundraising efforts launched

Since 1960 and for the next 47 years, Camp Tontozona, located some 100 miles north of Tempe has been a staple of ASU's fall camp practices. After a four-year hiatus, the Arizona State squad is poised to return this August to the facility near Payson, provided their fundraising efforts are successful. The process began today with the announcement of the ‘Return to Camp T Campaign'.

Arizona State Athletic Director Steve Patterson, who was joined at today's press conference by Head Coach Todd Graham, and Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, said in today's press conference that in order for the team to return and spend four days this year in Camp, $150,000 would need to be raised by June 1st.

"In talking with a number of our former football players, a number of our supporters, there has been a lot of interest going back to Camp T," Patterson said. "Todd and I had a chance to go up there earlier in the spring to tour it. We were happy to be hosted there by Mayor Evans.

"With that in mind we are undertaking a campaign to try and raise the money that is going to take for us to go back to Camp T. It was a camp that was built in 1960, it's aged in certain respects and football obviously has changed a good bit from when Coach Kush took his team up there 50 odd years ago."

Patterson added that the funds raised will be directed towards football field renovations, as well as a video-editing network, food and transportation, maintenance and rental fees. Those are the vital renovations for the team's return this summer. If the funds are raised in time, the Sun Devils are scheduled to trek up to camp on August 14th and leave on August 18th.

"We ask for your support to help make this happen," Patterson stated, "so we can make it a reality not just for this upcoming football season but for many football seasons to come."

First-year Head Coach Todd Graham said that ever since he arrived in Tempe it was impossible to ignore the pleas of former players to have the team return to Camp Tontozona and the camp fits the culture he's trying to instill and highlights some of the games virtues he holds in high regard.

"Tradition is what binds us together," he said. "That is what makes college football so special. That is one of the main reasons that it's very important to go back. You listen to the memories that were created there…I think they are very special and very important.

"Something for our football team that is very important - the idea of developing character, discipline, and toughness…the team building opportunities in a place like Camp Tontozona are incredible."

Legendary former ASU head coach Frank Kush, who founded Camp Tontozona, is someone that Graham "philosophically a lot of things in common", another reason why Graham fully embraces this campaign and what is stands for.

"In the day we live in now, there so many luxuries in college football" Graham explained. " like the idea of the camp and having our guys not being able to use their cell phones or internet and just spending time with each other. It is all about team. This camp represents something that is bigger than any coach or any player. It is ASU football."

Another benefit of the team's possible return to Camp Tontozona is the economic impact nearby Payson will receive. Beyond that financial gain, Evans said that he's proud that the ASU program under Graham will once again be associated with city he is mayor of.

"As a major of a small town in Arizona, one of the things I notice and see across the country is that we're in a great malaise, as a people and as individuals," Evans stated. "We just seem to be lacking direction. I believe what we lack out there is a hero and someone we can look to and say ‘That person is doing it right and we're going to follow them.'

"I don't want to embarrass him but in my association and brief opportunities to meet and visit with Coach Graham, I think you are going to find an individual that wears that hat very well. He is very humble about it, but he has that spark. We need to start a fire of enthusiasm under something that we can be proud of and I believe that ASU football can be that. I believe that spark can be Camp Tontozona."

Evans added that the City of Payson is elated for return of the team to Camp Tontozona. "It has also been common for residents to approach and ask when ASU is coming back to Camp T," he said. "It is a huge event, almost a festival that we celebrate in Payson."

For more information on the Return to Camp T Campaign please click here.

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