It’s been a challenging week for the Arizona Wildcats beyond the football field.
The team was shocked by the passing of offensive lineman Zach Hemmila, who died in his sleep on Monday, but has been unable to use football as an outlet for mourning. Rainy weather in Tucson made the Wildcats’ practice field unusable.
For both reasons, it made sense for Arizona to take a trip north, where the football team will help celebrate the life of Hemmila, a Chandler, Ariz., native, while continuing their preparation for the season.
The Arizona Cardinals offered a solution and opened their practice facility to the Wildcats.
“It was an easy decision,” team president Michael Bidwill said to Off The Edge’s Bertrand Berry on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “A phone call came in yesterday afternoon: ‘Would it even be a possibility?’ It was absolutely a possibility and we were going to make it happen. A bunch of our staff, people that you don’t see on TV, people behind the scenes who make stuff happen like Andy Levy, who is out there painting the field right now. And (VP of marketing) Lisa Manning and (VP of security) Rick Knight and (senior director of player development) Anthony Edwards, the trainers have cleared out their area. (Equipment manager) Mark Ahlemeier and their group have cleared out … the locker room. We’ve given all-access to the training facility so that they can use it the next two days.”
Rich Rodriguez’s program will practice once Wednesday and twice Thursday at the Cardinals’ practice facility in Tempe.
The Wildcats plan to attend a viewing of Hemmila on Thursday and return to Tucson for a Friday morning practice, then head to services for their teammate.
“The Cardinals have been really gracious,” Rodriguez told the Tucson media on Wednesday. “It’s really fortunate and it’s probably good that we stay busy, driving up there, have some meetings, have practice.
“I told the team, this isn’t in the coaching manual,” the UA coach added. “We’ll figure it out together.”
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