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UNLV ready for brief break from reminders of massacre with trip to Air Force

October 10, 2017 Updated: October 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm
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photo - Flowers, candles and other items surround the famous Las Vegas sign at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music concert killing dozens and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Flowers, candles and other items surround the famous Las Vegas sign at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music concert killing dozens and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher) 

Billboards pronounce the #VegasStrong message, businesses have erected signs encouraging unity and flyers for support groups are distributed regularly in UNLV classes.

In Las Vegas, it’s impossible to escape reminders of the Oct. 1 massacre in which 58 concert goers were killed from a gunman's 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible in a bad sense, though,” Rebels offensive tackle Kyle Saxelid said in advance of the team’s game at Air Force on Saturday, its first time outside the city since the mass shooting. “We’re trying to build and unite as a community.

“But Colorado Springs is a beautiful place. Great scenery up there. I think it’s going to be be good for the guys to get out and just enjoy it, have a little more peace and quiet.”

There has been little peace and quiet for this team since text and social media messages first alerted them to the shooting as it unfolded. Everyone on the team was quickly accounted for, but the same was not true for everyone they knew.

Quinton Robbins, a high school basketball teammate of receiver Devonte Boyd, was among those killed.

“Everybody was texting to make sure everyone safe,” said Boyd, who attended high school in Las Vegas. “I found out the next morning that he had died.”

UNLV (2-3, 1-1 Mountain West) will fly to Colorado Springs on Friday for Saturday’s noon game at Air Force (1-4, 0-2). It opted against extending the trip and escaping some of the tragic local imagery for a bit longer.

“I’ve always believed when things like this occur you’ve got to get back to normalcy as soon as you can,” coach Tony Sanchez said. “I think when you look at the research and studies that are done, when you get young men – or even adults – back in their routine it gives them the chance to deal with it and cope and have a little bit of normalcy back in their life. If you start changing too many things around, I think it can have an adverse effect. So, I want our guys in class, I want them focusing on school and getting better and living in their own homes and sleeping in their own beds.

“But I think getting away, getting some fresh air, getting your guys in the hotel, getting a good conversation going, getting a good night’s rest and being in a different environment is not going to be a bad thing at all for our guys.”

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