ROTC students compete in athletics physical challenge

Some events included basketball, football, volleyball, tug of war and a sprint relay.

Heated rivalries seethed as approximately 300 University ROTC students participated in the Joint Military Athletic Competition on a chilly afternoon Saturday.

Students from all four branches of service – the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy – competed in various athletics events during the physical challenge.

Nicole Penn, a Marine Corps ROTC senior, said winning is a matter of pride.

“Winners get bragging rights for the year,” she said.

The event is one of few joint activities between military branches, said Tracy Buettner, an Army ROTC junior.

Sporting team T-shirts of different colors, students quickly shuffled to and from the armory gym and the Bierman athletics complex during 15-minute periods of transition time.

For many participants, the event was used as required physical training for the week.

Team sports scheduled during the first four hours of competition included basketball, football, soccer and volleyball.

Marian Meyer, an Army ROTC graduate student, said the event served as a good camaraderie-builder and helped increase morale.

“We’re all here for the same cause: to have a good time and serve our country,” Meyer said.

Each team required at least one woman and one cadre, or staff member, to participate.

Later that afternoon, several students assumed ready positions in preparation for a sprint relay, endurance run and stretcher carry.

A 10-person tug-of-war battle tested the strength of students and concluded the event.

Jeff deLongpre, a Navy ROTC junior and primary organizer, said the event went well.

He said Penn independently restarted the event last year and added such activities as volleyball, soccer, running relays and tug-of-war.

Stephanie Kaari, an Air Force ROTC first-year student, said an annual athletics event similar to Saturday’s previously existed but abruptly ended in the early 1990s because of the shaky status of the University’s ROTC program.

DeLongpre said poor enrollment rates during that time forced the program to eliminate certain events.

In the past, ROTC students played one game per season and were awarded individual trophies, Penn said.

“Now, instead of seasonal awards, the winning team gets one big monster trophy,” she said. “And there’s a lot of ‘Navy’ on that trophy.”

The overall winner will be announced at the Tri-Service parade Saturday, another joint military event.

“It’s going to be close between the Navy and Army,” deLongpre said.