Casey Jones had no problem walking toward the ledge and dropping himself from the high-dive board exactly 30 meters into the water below.
Some of his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball teammates had some reservations.
But they all did it.
They took the leap of faith.
"We had some people who were scared of heights," Jones said. "But they got through it."
UTC basketball players endured the most grueling workouts of their lives last week when a Navy SEAL put them and the coaching staff through 90 minutes of top-notch military drills for three mornings in a row.
"He's the real deal," coach Will Wade said. "We couldn't even take pictures with him."
That SEAL -- who shall remain anonymous and was not filmed in any UTC video or photos -- pushed the limits of what the Mocs can handle with their bodies and minds.
The benefits of such training are not specifically revealed in a postgame box score or in the Southern Conference standings. They are immeasurable.
"It makes you trust your teammate because you're in a pool with a man hooked to your back and you have to trust that you won't drown with him," Jones said. "We had to focus through chaos. We had to do things you weren't too sure about. It was fun and challenging -- physically, mentally and emotionally."
Wade described the activities as 90 minutes of constant movement with half of that time spent in the water -- in a swimming pool or the Tennessee River.
The Mocs made human canoes and did in-water sit-ups, bear-crawls up a huge hill and fireman's carries, all designed to increase toughness and trust.
"The guys know there are guys they can count on," Wade said. "Everybody is not great at running. Some guys are physically strong, and some are emotionally tough. You need all of those components to be a success."
Wade and the coaches did all of the activities as well. They struggled, like their players, at times each morning.
"They expect so much out of us, and to see them struggle a little bit was fulfilling, and not just for me, either," Jones said. "It was fun to push them and see what they had, too."
One of the final activities included map reading and breaking the Mocs into smaller teams. They'd get to a destination and join another small group until the entire UTC team came together.
The SEAL training, Wade said, will be an annual event in the preseason, but with changes to a few of drills.
"When we got done, we were in the river and everybody went nuts," Wade said. "You could see the teamwork and the communication, and that carried over."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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