Zook Travels Overseas To Support US Troops

Fighting Illini football coach Ron Zook is excited about his upcoming trip. He leaves Saturday for an eight stop/nine day trip to support US Armed Services overseas. The exact itinerary is a secret, but he and four other college coaches will be in close proximity to hot spots, in more ways than one.

Illinois coach Ron Zook will join Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville, Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Rich Ellerson of Army and Harvard's Tim Murphy on the Coaches Tour 2010. They will interact with 15,000 to 20,000 troops and hand out tons of athletic apparel and university branded items donated by the schools and sponsors associated with the Tour.

"We leave Saturday morning," Zook explains. "It's gonna be a whirlwind (trip). I've talked to some of the coaches that have gone on it, and everyone of them has said the same thing. Obviously, it's a great honor and a privilege. You'll have a different appreciation for what those guys are going through for America."

Tuberville has been on the trip before, so Zook sought his advice.

"I talked to Tommy Tuberville, and he said to pack light. He said whatever you are gonna take, you are gonna carry. No one's gonna carry anything for you. He said it's awfully hot. Tommy was in Miami for many years, and he said it was the hottest place he's ever been in his life. But he said it's a great thing."

Being a defensive specialist, Zook has a special affinity for the role the US Armed Services plays in providing defense for this country.

"They do what they do for us to be able to live the way we live. My brother told me when we went on the aircraft carrier a couple years ago, you would see why the United States of America has the best defense in the world. One of the things Tommy was saying yesterday was that we are the police force for the world.

"The technology is amazing. I'm excited about that. I'm excited about seeing the teamwork. Like on the aircraft carrier, 5800 people all have a job, the teamwork that's involved. You have to have that for it to work."

Besides meeting and providing autographs with numerous military personnel, there will also be panel discussions, flag football games, skill competitions and athletic combines. Zook will also have a chance to meet with at least one friend on the trip.

"I don't know how many emails I've gotten from people who are over there. It's slipped out that some of us are coming over, and they're excited about it. I got one this morning from a guy I coached at Cincinnati a long time ago who's over there right now. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to see him."

While speculation suggests the group may land in Iraq and Afghanistan among other areas with high concentrations of troops, Zook is not permitted to discuss their destinations.

"I got some more itinerary today, and they get you moving pretty fast. You've got to learn military time. All I can tell you is I'll be in Germany on Monday."

The tour is supported by the USO. Armed Forces Entertainment and Morale Entertainment are presenters. Under Armour and American Airlines will also provide support.

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