‘We all love it’: Rebels embrace a remote fall camp away from distractions

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Mark Wallington

UNLV players walking to dinner at the Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely following practice Tuesday evening.

UNLV Football Training Camp

We practice at a public park here in Ely (Broadbent Park) so this is a shot of a quarterback drill in front of the kids using the playground set. Launch slideshow »

ELY — When you add it all up, Brett Boyko has spent about two months of his life in Ely, a town the Canadian would have never heard of if not for UNLV’s football’s annual trip.

The senior offensive lineman has been coming here for the past five years for the Rebels’ fall camp, with each trip lasting just under two weeks. But in all that time there’s been little in the way of nonfootball activities, which is sort of the point.

“You go back tired from practice, you get up and you do it again,” Boyko said. “It’s the camp life but we all love it.”

If the team were still on campus this is the type of environment they would try to create: insulated from the outside, nonfootball world. Traveling 250 miles north does that for them.

Most of the players’ time in Ely is accounted for on the itinerary. There are the practices, including several two-a-days, at Broadbent Park plus film sessions at the high school. Throw in all of the team meals at the convention center and you have basically the only three locations that the Rebels could speak about.

After practice they usually walk past the stores and restaurants on Aultman Street on the way back to the hotel but it’s only window shopping. There’s a team meal to get to or more film study to do, so no one’s stopping for any distractions.

“It’s great for team camaraderie because it’s all football,” said senior receiver Devante Davis. “That’s what I love about it.”

Davis is in his fourth year of Ely training camp and he’s noticed a few changes around town since his first trip. For instance, the Motel 6 where he originally stayed has made some upgrades, and there are different lights around their practice area at Broadbent Park. One thing that hasn’t changed much are the mountains surrounding the town, and that’s just how Davis likes it.

“You can’t get a better view than the one up here,” he said.

The players’ entertainment mostly consists of card games or dominoes. Bored with that? Fire up some game or practice film because that’s likely going to work better than the sometimes spotty cellphone service.

For 12 days, all the Rebels really have is each other. That’s the type of feeling they would like to create throughout the entire season, and traveling to a remote location makes it easier to accomplish.

Transferring that feeling back to Las Vegas is one of their many challenges, along with the day-to-day preparations of getting ready for the season. That’s the main task and it’s the main reason they started coming up to Ely in the first place.

The temperature for Thursday’s afternoon practice was a tick below 80 degrees, and that’s as warm as it’s been all week. The cooler air allows coach Bobby Hauck to put the Rebels on his schedule rather than playing games with the weather, and it forces everyone to focus on the task at hand.

“This is a huge deal for us and our guys in recent years have really embraced coming up here,” Hauck said. “… It’s far superior to what it would be in Vegas.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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