DELAFIELD, Wis. — Sometimes, when I’m extra-fortunate, covering out-of-town sports events offers chances for personal-time sightseeing.
The U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Course in southeast Wisconsin provided such an opportunity. On the way to Sunday’s final round, I made a 15-mile detour to St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield.
En route to Erin Hills early in the week, I’d seen road signs to Delafield. The name seemed familiar, but initially I didn’t know why. Then, realization hit: Last year, a couple of weeks before the Cowboys moved into The Star in Frisco, I had researched for a timeline and story about the Cowboys’ history of practice facilities and training camp sites.
Training camp in Wichita Falls in the ’90s was sweltering; camp in San Antonio’s Alamodome in the 2000s was weird, but the most infamous and bizarre training camp site in the franchise’s 57-year history was — yes — St. John’s Academy.
The year was 1960. It was the Cowboys’ debut season. The Cowboys’ 28-year-old director of player personnel, Gil Brandt, was in charge of setting up training camp accommodations for a rag-tag team of castoffs from other franchises and a few prized rookies, namely quarterback Don Meredith and running back Don Perkins.
The first half of camp took place in cool and scenic, but rainy, Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.
For the second half of camp, Milwaukee native Brandt chose St. John’s Academy. Though he hadn’t actually visited the military school in several years, he knew it as a prestigious, and presumably tip-top-shape academy. Brandt heard that the dorm rooms…
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