Zach Schneider blogs from Florence, AL: Day 2

By KBJR News 1

Zach Schneider blogs from Florence, AL: Day 2

December 17, 2010 Updated Dec 17, 2010 at 5:37 PM CDT

The #1 ranked UMD Bulldogs football team came to Florence, Alabama with a signular goal - win a national championship.

On Friday morning, the Dogs deviated a bit from that goal and headed to a local elementary school to meet and read to the students, and the reception they received was more chilling than a typical December night back in Duluth.

Cheers of "Let's go Bulldogs" and "U-M-D" could probably be heard for miles as the bus arrived at the school. Students lined the hallways, leading the players to the school's auditorium for a welcoming pep rally.

From there, the players broke off into groups and headed to individual classrooms where they read to the students, signed autographs, and posed for pictures.

Never before, and I'm guessing here, have these young student-athletes felt quite like that.

These kids were genuinely excited to meet the players of a team that, before last Saturday's semifinal was over, they'd probably never heard of.

Players were asked about a variety of things, from boyhood idols, to the advantages of a good education, to what snow actually feels like.

One player, if I'm not mistaken, even got asked for a date in a little more than a decade.

If playing in a national championship game is the experience of a lifetime, what the Bulldogs had the chance to do Friday morning in northern Alabama has to be a close second.

Try not to smile when hundreds of kids chant for your team, even if they'd only learned about UMD Bulldogs football earlier this week.

This game isn't just about football down here in 'Bama. It's about more than that. It's about tradition, about passion, about a way of life.

And after the morning they had at L.E. Willson Elementary School, the UMD Bulldogs of 2010 will never, ever forget that.