Upon taking the reigns at Arizona State, head coach Todd Graham make quick, strong and repeated mentions of his desire to embrace and reconnect with the program's tradition. One of the principal objectives on that front was returning the team to it's longtime training camp home at Camp Tontozona.
As Graham said at the time, "Camp Tontozona is one of the famous icons in the history of college football. I want to take my first team there because the tradition begins at Tontozona, justlike it did in 1960. Every player, every coach and many fans begin each season in the tall pines northeast of Payson."
To do so, the school launched the "Return to Camp T" campaign on April 19th in order to raise the $150,000 by June 1st needed to make a 2012 return viable.
Six weeks later: Mission accomplished.
On Thursday, Graham and Athletic Director Steve Patterson announced that the Sun Devil community and the grassroots efforts have raised over $160,000, thanks to donations from nearly 500 people (including this columnist).
"Camp Tontozona united Sun Devil football players from every generation and we wanted to return to that tradition. We needed the Sun Devil Football family to unite behind this goal and it did," said Patterson.
The campaign received a major and essential boost from the White Mountain Sun Devil Club, who started a contribution matching program on May 2nd. They totaled an incredible $65,000 in matching donations during the drive, thereby ensuring a prompt return up north.
The Sun Devil football team will head up to "Camp T" for five days. from August 14th through 18th, for practices and team bonding, with a scrimmage set for the 18th. Coach Graham indicated that legendary head coach Frank Kush and other former players will travel to Tontozona and speak to the team.
Camp Tontozona was the site of the Sun Devils' training camp for 48 years, and became a cherished staple not just for the players and coaches, but also for the fans, who would escape the heat of the Valley to venture to the cool pines and cheer on their Sun Devils. The team moved it's August training camp to the new Dickey Dome in 2007, and have not been back to Tontozona since a scrimmage in 2008.
But don't take it from us. Let's hear Coach Kush talk about what Camp T means to Sun Devil football.