Rodriguez Believes Tragedy Will Bring ‘Cats Closer

It’s hard to prepare for the unthinkable.

It’s a struggle the Arizona Wildcats, head coach Rich Rodriguez and the entire football community around the state has been trying to cope with since the unexpected passing of UA offensive lineman and former Chandler High School standout Zach Hemmila Monday morning.

Southern Arizona storms flooded the Cats’ fields and damaged parts of Arizona Stadium relocating the team to the Valley where the Arizona Cardinals have served as gracious hosts the past 48 hours before the team returns to Tucson Thursday for Hemmila’s viewing that evening and service on Friday. The change of venue was spearheaded by Athletic Director Greg Byrne who contacted Cardinals’ President Michael Bidwill and General Manager Steve Keim to explore the option with Cards being in Glendale Wednesday and having no scheduled workout Thursday before their first pre-season game Friday night against the Oakland Raiders.

Rodriguez believes the trip to the Valley and a pair of spirited workouts served as a nice distraction.

“There are probably a lot of emotions still but I think you’re better being busy,” he said to the assembled media in Tempe. “It’s ok to feel down…but we also need to work and lean on each other and I think our guys are doing that.”

He also thinks the tragic, unthinkable tragedy has created a unique bond for the 2016 Wildcats.

“About every team I’ve had has been pretty tight, pretty close,” Rodriguez explained. “I think this team is especially close.”