K-State Athletics honors the military, celebrates ties to Fort Riley

K-State Athletics Communications and K-State Alumni Communications

Soldiers drop for some push-ups during the Nov. 5 football game against Baylor. (Photo: K-State Athletics)

A group of soldiers had an up-close view from the sidelines at the Nov. 5 football match-up against Baylor, attending the game as special guests for Kansas State University’s Fort Riley Day. The annual event celebrates K-State’s connection to the nearby Fort Riley military base and also honors soldiers serving at home and overseas. 

Soldiers were recognized on the field during the game, the K-State Marching Band performed a patriotic halftime show, and Willie the Wildcat even made an appearance in uniform. Special honors went to a group of Vietnam veterans watching the game from the Wabash Landing.

The event is just one way K-State celebrates its ties to the military. K-State and Fort Riley recently renewed their one-of-a-kind partnership during a ceremony at the K-State Alumni Center. This long-standing partnership resulted in the Football Writers Association of America naming the Wildcat football team as one of three finalists out of 18 nominees for its 2015 Armed Forces Merit Award. The award was announced on Veterans Day. Bret Robertson of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, won the award, and Middle Tennessee's Steven Rhodes was the other finalist.

“This partnership (with K-State) is another important reason that Fort Riley is the best place to train, best place to deploy from, the best place to live and the best place to come home to,” said Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general. “I look forward to many years of continuing partnership and deepening our bonds, and continued collaboration of ways to benefit our soldiers and our students.”


Kansas State University men's basketball and the soldiers from Fort Riley are recognized during the Nov. 5 football game. (Photo: K-State Athletics)
K-State football isn’t the only athletics team that works with Fort Riley. The men’s basketball team also has a strong bond with Fort Riley. Along with the K-State team wearing the 1-7 Field Artillery crest on the sleeves of their jerseys, the team hosts clinics with the soldiers’ families and the unit often comes out to games to cheer on their favorite purple team. 
 
Earlier this year, players from the men's basketball team took a trip out to Fort Riley for an afternoon of fun and games with soldiers and their families. 
    
“We had a really good day,” said K-State senior guard Justin Edwards. “We got to hang out with the soldiers and play basketball with some of their kids. We played some one-on-one, we played knockout, we interacted with them and had a lot of fun. It was a really good day.”
  
First Lieutenant Stephen Motta, a 2006 graduate of K-State, recently took charge of the partnership for the 1-7 Field Artillery and now serves as the liaison between the Wildcat basketball program and his soldiers. 
  
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Motta said. “When I came in to the 1-7 and they told me they were partners with the men’s basketball team, I thought it was great. I’m a K-State grad, so I asked them, ‘What can I do to help build the partnership?’ Eventually I got to take the lead, and it’s been an awesome opportunity so far.” 
  
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Kanas State University men's golf pays a visit to Fort Riley. (Photo: K-State Athletics)

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