How playing for the US National Team has helped prepare these athletes for the armed forces

By Gavin Porter | Posted 5/23/2017

Deciding where to take the next step after high school is a major choice. If given the opportunity to play football at the collegiate level, athletes need to choose a university that supports their vision, goals and values.

Dallas BlacklockWith offers from multiple programs, defensive backs Tre Bugg from Gilbert, Ariz. and Houston native Dallas Blacklock both felt that attending service academies would give them a sense of pride they were familiar with.

“It’s a feeling like no other to represent your country,” Blacklock, who has committed to West Point said. “Once you get that feeling of pride there is no going back. In China it wasn’t about Texas or about New Jersey it was about the United States of America. It was us against the world.”

In the summer of 2016 Blacklock and Bugg traveled to Harbin, China to participate in the IFAF U-19 World Championship. The experience of representing the red, white and blue is something that played a part in their choices to serve their country after high school.

“At USA Football, we went through difficult trials and tribulations. We formed bonds that will never be broken and we became better men,” said Bugg, who will attend Air Force in the fall. “You’re always playing for yourself and for your family. But when I see USA or Air Force on my chest it adds another layer. I will be representing everyone that came before me with these colors.”

Another part of the U.S. National Team culture that is similar to service academies is structure. There are traditions, expectations and responsibilities that come along with representing your country. Both Blacklock and Bugg believe that amount of structure promotes excellence.

Tre' Bugg“My life has always had structure,” Bugg said. “If you plan something out, it’s going to be better. If you plan to go above and beyond to keep the legacy and honor the history of those in your program, then you’re going to be part of something unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”

Blacklock shared a similar sentiment.

“USA Football gave me a sense of pride for my country,” Blacklock said. “My time at Army will continue to teach me structure, discipline and focus. I am going to do everything to represent the honor, loyalty and responsibility that comes along with being at West Point.”

U.S. National Team events are designed to give athletes a look into their potential football future, with professional coaches and a business-first attitude. Sticking to schedules, performing at a high level and taking responsibility are just a few things that coaches preach. They are lessons and virtues that extend well beyond the football field.

For Blacklock and Bugg, the experiences with the U.S. National Team played a huge role in shaping not only where they were going to play football at the next level, but how they were going to develop as people.

“There is nothing like representing your country. Nothing like putting on that jersey with those colors,” Bugg said. “Every time I get to strap-up in red, white and blue it’s a feeling I never forget. I am beyond blessed that I will get to continue getting that feeling at Air Force.”

Learn more about the U.S. National Team program here, and watch Football For Life: U-19 IFAF World Championship below: