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More than a team

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Otero County Bucks’ football players sprint during practice, Sept. 8, 2019, on the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo, N.M. The team gathers every Sunday at 10 a.m. to practice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Courtlyn Collier, (center) Otero County Bucks defensive player, practices side shuffling against an opponent, Sept. 8, 2019, on the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo, N.M. Collier has been a part of the Otero County football team for eight years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

The Otero County Bucks’ quarterback throws to the wide-receiver during practice, Sept. 8, 2019, on the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo, N.M. The Bucks begin their season around November and will be using a football field in Cloudcroft for games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Courtly Collier, Otero County Bucks defensive player, sprints during football practice, Sept. 8, 2019, on the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo, N.M. Collier is currently an on-the-field coach as well as a defensive player and will be one of the four team owners next year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Courtlyn Collier, (seated on ground in center) Otero County Bucks defensive player, speaks to the football team practice, Sept. 8, 2019, on the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo, N.M. Collier is currently an on-the-field coach as well as a defensive player and will be one of the four team owners next year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

His dark brown eyes are fixated on the ball, waiting for the opposing team to dare to come onto his turf. Sweat is dripping down his face and he can feel his thighs beginning to burn from the defensive crouch he’s been holding.

Nothing matters more in this moment than preventing the offense from crossing the goal line and scoring.

Otero County Bucks’ coach, player and 49th Air Maintenance Squadron production expeditor, Tech. Sgt. Courtlyn Collier, enjoys playing football for many reasons.

“Playing football relaxes me,” said Collier. “I like being around people and helping them the best I can. We have high school kids who graduate and don’t know what to do with their lives. This is an opportunity for them to keep playing ball, stay in shape and eventually move onto college instead of getting in the streets and into trouble.”

Collier attends practice religiously, and has participated in this program since 2011.

Locals and military personnel gather for practice every Sunday at the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex in Alamogordo to adapt to each other’s playing style in preparation for football season, from March to June.

“(The Otero County Bucks) is a semi-pro football team in Alamogordo,” said Collier. “I’m an on-the-field coach and I play defense as defensive tackle and defensive end. Next year, I’ll be one of the four owners of the team and I’ll be fully coaching, if I’m still here.”

There is more to being on the team than just playing football to Collier. The people he has met and the friends he has made has been a motivator to continue playing with the team.

“We hang out a lot, it’s like a family,” said Collier. “We have barbeques at each other’s houses, help each other move, if someone’s grandma needs help – we help. We have guys who run the softball team in town and we have others helping in the high school. We turn into a family and keep in touch throughout the year, it’s not just during practice.”

In the military it is good to expect the unexpected and Collier hopes to continue playing or actively be a part of semi-pro football for a while – even if he moves.

“I would try to join another team like this if I moved because I love football,” said Collier. “Some guys come into the military and want to play backyard football. We can do something better – make it a semi-pro team and get a couple cities around to join in. Then you can play football again, feel like a professional athlete and play until you’re 45.”

Collier believes something as simple as joining a football team could improve an Airman’s time at Holloman and help them make more of a connection with the local community.

“Everybody says Alamogordo is boring, but I use this to occupy my free time,” said Collier. “By joining, people have the opportunity to play tackle football and travel around New Mexico and Texas, and see cities they never thought they would see.”

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