LATROBE, Pa. (WTAJ) — For the first time since 2019, the Steelers returned to Chuck Noll field, a grass hillside field that’s long been the home for the Steelers summer camps.
“All the younger guys and even some of the vets that haven’t experienced and drove just to be here, the rich tradition and history behind, you know, the Steelers organization and the steel curtain,” said defensive linemen Tyson Alualu.
It was 1966 when Pittsburgh first began hosting team camp at St. Vincent College. A return to dorm life for a few weeks draws mixed emotions, but regardless of how you feel, being in Latrobe is part of wearing the black and gold.
“This is my first time being here because, you know, COVID and all that stuff. So this just kind of helps you become a Steeler,” said second year linemen Kevin Dotson. “They put that in your mind, when you’re first drafted, you’re not just an NFL player, you’re a Steeler.”
“The rich tradition and history behind the Steelers organization, the Steel curtain it’s just good to be here,” Alualu added. “Kind of building our own stories that will be cool to look back on when our story was written.”
Wednesday’s practice is the first of 18 in Latrobe. I the coming weeks the team will sort out it’s quarterback situation, with recently retired Ben Roethlisberger not with the team for the first time in 18 years. The team will hope to address it’s shaking offensive line and fill in it’s new look defensive line. But those questions would be answered regardless of where the Steelers camped. Leaving their home facilities in Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin said, has as much to do with the off the field experience.
“It’s the opportunity to capture the intangible of which we cannot measure. The informal time that that going away to camp provides you, those moments where a veteran guy gets a chance to spend time with a young guy on the stoop out back at night, or in between meetings, or after dinner,” he said. “I just think there’s value in that. There’s growth, there’s collective growth in that.”
And for some this is a dream come true. Long snapped Christian Kuntz is with the Steelers for a second season. A Pittsburgh native, coming to Latrobe is something he’s done his entire life.
“Packing my clothes to come to camp, staying in the dorms, riding the golf cart over. It’s surreal,” he said. “I’m excited for the first day to see the fans here. I’m on the other side of the guard rail this time. It’ll be really cool.”