Fort Riley, Kansas



K-State football partnership passes to ‘Iron Rangers’

By Capt. Keith E. Thayer | 4TH IBCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS | April 20, 2015

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The long-running partnership between the Kansas State University Wildcats football team and the “Black Lions” spans nine years and was entrusted March 25 to the “Iron Rangers.”

Leaders from the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., met with the team’s coaching staff at Bill Snyder Family Stadium during an informal handover ceremony.

Bill Snyder, the Wildcats’ head coach, described the partnership between his team and the Black Lions as an enduring force.

“It’s just been a great cooperative effort,” Snyder said.

The Black Lions’ parent unit, the 4th IBCT, is scheduled for inactivation April 2. Of the brigade’s many inactivation priorities, one has been safeguarding the numerous community partnerships established during the brigade’s nine-years at Fort Riley.

“The K-State football program has been a fantastic partnership,” said Lt. Col. James Lander, the commander of the 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt. “The Black Lion Soldiers have benefitted tremendously from the various opportunities this partnership has brought forth over the years. The staff, coaches and players have been classy and have treated us as part of the K-State football family.”

The partnership has given the Black Lions and K-State an opportunity to experience what it is like to live in the other’s shoes.

“They came to Fort Riley and we had them out to the firing range,” said Capt. Sean M. Wolodzko, the 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., adjutant. “We also had them do a full-morning PT session with us. What was unique about both of those experiences was that it allowed us to interact a little bit more personally with the players. The players were there on the ground with us. At the firing range they were paired up with a Soldier so a Soldier and a player really got to know a little bit more about each other.”

In the future, the new partners of the K-State football team see potential for growth and building upon the relationship that exists between the military and the team.

“It’s a great opportunity to build off of the great partnership that the Black Lions have been working with,” said Lt. Col. Trent Upton, commander of 1st Bn., 16th Inf. Regt. “Be it on the practice field, the field of play or out on the battlefield, we’re working with a very similar demographic – Soldiers or players, in their case. So I think there’s a lot to learn from each other with regard to leader development and building winning teams, which cross over lines between the military and, in this case, a bigtime sports program like the KSU football team.”