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An Extra Edge: Military discipline lifts Black Knight on gridiron

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
After scoring a touchdown in his team's 34-0 victory Aug. 25, 2012, Danny Bise, wide receiver, rendered a salute to the crowd in celebration. To many the gesture may seem frivolous, but for Airman 1st Class Bise, a 19th Communications Squadron client service center technician at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., it means more than endzone antics or hijinks of hubris. Bise, like many other Airmen, has a passion to serve his country; however, he also has a passion for the game of football, and he's able to satisfy these passions by playing for the semi-professional Arkansas Sabers in his off-time.

Bise developed a love for football when he was young. His relationship with the game started at the age of 8, when he played in a league called the "termite's" league.

"I remember seeing kids playing football one day and asked if I could play," said Bise. "After that (my parents) signed me up and I've been playing ever since."

Graduating from the termites to peewee and then to junior varsity in high school, Bise developed a passion, and skills, for football. In his junior and senior year of high school, Bise was an all-state wide receiver and safety for his varsity football team in Florala, Ala., and earned a scholarship to play football at Faulkner University, near Montgomery, Ala., where he played wide receiver for two years.

After joining the military and getting stationed at Little Rock, Bise found out about the Saber's and tried out for the team in January of 2012. The tryouts were challenging.

"They have combine style tryouts," he said. "The forty-yard dash, vertical, bench press, shuffle times, three-cone drills and then we went into specific position drills against defensive backs."

The Sabers hold tryouts every year, and select their entire roster based on the tryouts. Everyone is required to tryout, even those who played for the team previously.

"I was trying out against people who had already played for the team before," said Bise.
After making the team, Bise immersed himself in the competition and was just happy to be playing football, although his duties as a military member have required him to make sacrifices when it comes to the game.

"We have games in Texas and Kansas City and other places," said Bise. "If I don't have leave built up, or if the military mission prevents it, I can't go to some of the games."

Such a predicament came up recently, when Bise had to miss his team's playoff game to work at the base's biannual Open House and Air Show. The Sabers lost, and Bise is dejected that he wasn't able to be with him team, but he understands it comes with the duties of being an Airman.

Bise joined the military for personal reasons, and views it as opportunity to become a more complete person.

"I really joined because I felt like I needed a head-start in life, a pick-me-up," he said. "In many ways I've used the military to grow up."

The pick-me-up came in an unusual job for Bise, working on computers.

"I never even owned a computer before," he said laughing.

He isn't sure of what he wants to do in the future, but right now he's happy to be playing football, and even though he knew he loved the game as soon as he started playing, he didn't know it would still be a big part of his life later on.

"I don't have any real plans for the future with football," he said. "The league I'm in can get you scouted to any higher level, but right now I'm happy where I'm at. Just playing the game is great."

Playing football means more than just showing up for the games. Bise follows a daily schedule to ensure he's physically and mentally prepared to play. His routine involves daily weight training and evening workouts in addition to mandatory squadron PT.

"If I'm not at practice I'm in the weight room after work," he said. "I enjoy it, as soon as I get off work I have an hour to get ready, go lift weights, go to practice and then get back home and into bed. I like that kind of schedule though, I really don't like down time."

Occasionally the strenuous schedule can charge a physical price.

"If I have a hard practice one night and early-morning PT the next day it can be kind of tough," he said. "But it doesn't bother me that bad. I stay in pretty good shape so I can recover pretty quickly. Little pains like knees or ankles might be aggravating but it's not that bad."

He doesn't worry about a little pain because competition is what drives him on and off the football field.

"I'm a competitor, in anything I do," he said. "Whether it's my job or football, competing is a lot of fun. I always feel like I have something to prove as an athlete, that my skills are better than somebody else's."

So far Bise has been handling the competition pretty well. He's started at receiver for the Sabers this year, and scored a touchdown on a punt return, a particularly harrowing part of the game.

"Returning punts can be scary," he said. "There's a lot that goes into it. When the ball's in the air, you have a split second to find out if you want to call a fair catch or run with it, depending if the defense is close to you. You have to look down at the defense and back at the ball to catch it. As soon as you catch it you know you got to be moving because if you just stand there, you're going to take one ... a couple good moves can get you in the wide-open field, but it can also get you super lit up."

While Bise enjoys competing at all levels, and even participates in intramural sports on base for fun, he said there's no replacement for competition against other people who want nothing other than to prove their superiority.

"I always have something to prove against everyone," he said. "It's not fun playing against people at a lower talent level."

Like most athletes, Bise has some game-day rituals he follows to be prepared for the game.

"I like to zone out to music, maybe do a light lift in the morning to feel tight, but once I get in the locker room and start getting ready, I'm automatically hyped," he said. "You don't even need to do anything else to hype yourself up."

When he walks into the Saber's locker room two hours before game-time, Bise said the anticipation before the game gets him excited every time. And if the anticipation excites him, the game itself is exhilarating to him.

"It's like a 60 minute adrenaline rush," he said.

Being able to fulfill full-time duties as an Airman and playing semi-professional football in his off-time requires a lot of sacrifices for Bise. He knows his official duties come before his passion for football, but he also knows he gets a lot in return.

"I enjoy being in the military and playing football because I get the job that I need, benefits and my life going the right way," he said.

Being an Airman does more than just give Bise a steady paycheck. He said his service has improved his ability on the football field too.

"Of course the military teaches you discipline," he said. "It gives me that little extra edge, when I think, 'this is tough, I can't do it', I know that I really can. Military discipline gives me that edge against other people."

It's not just a one-way road either. Bise said a resilient competitor's spirit, cultivated by the game of football, has helped him become a better Airman too.

"I've played football all my life and it teaches you to just get up when you're down," he said. "It gives you a little aggression and competitiveness too. That competiveness helps me in everything I do, whether it is applying for a job, or a promotion or anything else."
Whenever he's competing, at anything, on or off the field, Bise said he's grateful to be able to serve his country and pursue a passion of his.

"I love doing this, being able to serve in the military and play football at the same time. It's great."