Camp Rockbrook

While many of Sullivan’s players can recount the same outlandish practice experiences. Only a few can personally speak of Rockbrook a full two years before coach Bear Bryant made his fame trip to junction. It was in the crucible of Rockbrook that Sullivan hammered the lethal edge of his 1952 team. The techniques employed by Sullivan resulted in an attrition rate of over 80% and it would mark the first and last time Sullivan would ever subject one of his teams to the experience.

 

Tommy Davis 

In the fall of 1952, Coach Sullivan took us to Camp Rock Brook, near Mike and Mississippi. It was a deserted long,-lost,, long closed down YWCA camp where young girls used to go but to at least 130 of us there. To begin with. Ten days later he put 29 of us on the bus and brought us back to scuba just play the season.

 

Jimmy Gray 

I didn’t know what was even located till I got there. But it was tough.

 

Billy Brown 

He was at a little wheeled backed camp Robert ward. (1:11)

 

Tommy Davis 

He took a bus up there from scuba, he commandeered some pickups, farmers pickups, he got him to agree to haul equipment up there and people

 

Billy Brown 

and it was this young high school board who we didn’t realize we got on that bus going to rock Brook. We look around See you guys you know with him. (1:28) Korean veterans guys who played already a year before and then going on active duty.

 

Kline Sheperd 

But we arrived at about nine o’clock on his own parade (1:41), Coach Sullivan said come up and get the uniforms and we got Danny drove down through the cabins and mountain on his bullhorn at two o’clock

 

Jimmy Gray 

the football field was carved out of these tall pine trees,

 

TL Cloar 

just open space. So we hate that.

 

Billy Brown 

It was just a whole big pitch, about the size of a football field,

 

Jimmy Gray 

no markings, no nothing, just an open field,

 

Kline Sheperd 

all kinds of grass at that dead grass

 

Billy Brown 

in his road all the way around. And he clipped it off with some kind of old Sycamore something stub sticking up But probably to 3g. I mean, he wouldn’t have placed the practice.

 

Interviewee 

You couldn’t get a breath of air in that little square box that we’ve practiced and cut out in those trees to save your life.

 

Tommy Davis 

He told us one day, he says, Man, you can look upon what we’re gonna do here at Eastman this year as a journey. He said, let me tell you, on this journey. Cowards never even start. And the weak shall perish along the way.

 

Kline Sheperd 

We went into the hit head home, that was one of his favorite drills that head on

 

Jimmy Gray 

tackling he’d hit head home anytime. A little hit head home on track and all this kind of stuff. And then he would run us to death.

 

Kline Sheperd 

We didn’t have a helmet. Nope. shoulder pads or nothing just just bodies running into each other

 

Tommy Davis 

and he told us we were going to be tougher than the marines.

 

TL Cloar 

Coach loved the grass drill. I don’t know whether this came from being a drill instructor not.

 

Jimmy Gray 

He did he nearly kicked us doing the grass grill.

 

TL Cloar 

That was a drill where you ran in place and then you would dive to the ground

 

Jimmy Gray 

on your back oon your back,  back up running on your back.

 

TL Cloar 

The only problem was that in Mississippi, this there’s a sandy soil. And it has little Sandy thorns little stickers or something.

 

Kline Sheperd 

Those grasses punch in me real good, but it’s so hard the blodd will dry up  real quick whenever they come up. Coach Sullivan standing right over there to the left of him. I was rolling around in him and I could see it cut my eyes toward him. He was just smiling.

 

TL Cloar 

I had those things going out of my hand for two or three years after I left scuba mississipi.

 

Kline Sheperd 

But I had grapefruit juice up on a big tub. It did practice fail. He didn’t want more than allowed to get in into the practice of over and people would crawl up at it, throw up in it. And so it was too much of that being dry.

 

Tommy Davis 

Right that first night he put us to bed, and he probably had brought music he told us he’s gonna have some music for us to listen to, records that he played. And I remember and I’ll never forget, when I’m with stardust, the other one was sentimental journey. And many of us were waiting or wanting to take that Sentimental Journey home and a lot of them did.

 

TL Cloar 

He almost never knew who you are gonna be there the next morning

 

Tommy Davis 

A lot of them were stealing away in the dead of night hitchhiking away. Hand to Mike and away from Mike, and anyway to get away from Camp Rockborough.

 

TL Cloar 

and I’m sure some very good athletes left. That could have helped our team. I’m sure of that.

 

Kline Sheperd 

All returned to scuba it was 36 loaded up on the bus and it will have stopped somewhere along four to five and had to play somebody. Any eleven on that bus would have put up a great battle.