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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pitt will take on the Stanford Cardinal football team in the Sun Bowl next week, but ahead of the game, the Panthers are taking some time to give back to the community of El Paso, Texas.

Four buses with more than 100 Pitt players, coaches and team personnel pulled up to Fort Bliss Friday afternoon for a special visit.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The team toured the facility, which included an up-close and personal look at the equipment used on the battlefield.

“It allows us to step outside of football for a bit and get over here and see things that a lot of people don’t see,” said running back Quadree Ollison.

They also experienced what it’s like to be inside a tank as military officers put them through combat simulation.

Ollison was a gunner in a tank simulation.

“You get to step in their shoes for a second,” he said. “It’s smaller than you think. It’s a lot different than playing a video game. It’s just unbelievable, so many different buttons, so many different controls, and everybody has a role in there. Working together as a team is huge.”

Pitt is making its mark in El Paso this week, and not only the football team.

KDKA’s Rich Walsh Reports:


Athletic Director Heather Lyke, her staff and the coaches’ families helped give back to the community. Lyke and about 40 volunteers helped beautify a park in El Paso.

A tree was planted that includes a special Pitt Christmas ornament, along with shrubs around the park.

“We thought it would be nice to give back to the community, which is what we try and do in Pittsburgh, too,” said Lyke.

Pitt partnered with the El Paso Parks and Rec Department, the Sun Bowl and the United Way to make the project happen.

“To come out to the playground and try and beautify it, so we planted some trees and shrubs and just tried to help out where we can,” said Lyke. “We’re here for five days, and I just think it’s really important to try and give back.”