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    Army JROTC Cadets fall in at National Drill and Fitness Championship

    JROTC National Drill and Fitness Championships | 2023

    Photo By Kyle Crawford | Army JROTC Cadets from Central Catholic High School compete in the armed dual drill...... read more read more

    DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES

    05.07.2023

    Story by Sarah Windmueller 

    U.S. Army Cadet Command (Army ROTC)

    Marching through sunshine and rain, over 5,000 Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Cadets showed up on the beaches and the drill pad to put their fitness and teamwork on display at the 2023 JROTC National Drill and Fitness Championship.

    The competition held May 5-7 at Daytona Beach, Fla., highlights the hard work and dedication of the best JROTC teams from across the nation.

    “Events like these are just a chance for our kids to showcase their talent. It’s the best of Junior ROTC and shows the power of Junior ROTC,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio Munera, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Cadet Command.

    “You’ve got kids that are leaders of character – they understand hard work, they understand teamwork, they understand the importance of repetition and practice – all things that are going to make them successful in whatever they decide to do in life.”

    With programs traveling from as far away as Hawaii, five of the six JROTC service branches were represented during the Unarmed and Armed Exhibition Drill, Color Guard, and Inspection events. In each event, Cadet teams are exposed to high pressure environments under the watchful and heavily critical eyes of all-service judges.

    Teams have been preparing all year, with countless hours dedicated to rehearsing and studying.

    “We are here for the Nationals Drill Team Championships, and it’s taken months and months of hard work to get here,” said Leah Serna, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School.

    Each team has their own approach and mindset to achieve a version of greatness they believe acceptable for this national competition.

    “We wake up every day at six-thirty in the morning and we practice for two hours every weekday,” said Andrea Abatecola, a senior at North Salem High School. “We work a lot in order to be great and it’s strenuous.

    “It’s hard to get yourself to study, to get yourself to practice every morning, but if you do it right, the outcome is extremely worth it.”

    Abatecola has been a member of the Lady Vikings since she was a freshman. As she continued to push herself within the JROTC program each school year, she began to adapt and recognize the values that were now becoming an essential part of her character."

    “I think that being part of this team has taught me to be a team member and a team player,” Abatecola said. “I can look out for myself and know what I need to do to improve myself, but I also know what I can do to improve other people and help them.”

    Serna has been a member of Theodore Roosevelt High School’s JROTC program all four years of high school, joining initially after seeing the friendships and “big family” mentality exhibited by the program’s members.

    Serna and the team especially connected and grew closer as the COVID pandemic cancelled or restricted events over the past two and a half years.

    “We’ve definitely overcome a lot of adversity,” Serna said. “It’s just showed us that no matter what gets thrown our way we can always push through and make the best out of a situation.”

    A strong sense of community is predominantly what most students highlight when referring to their JROTC programs.

    Gavin Lozano is a junior at Central Catholic High School. His father signed him up for the program as a freshman, and Lozano has stuck with it because of the friendships and the character qualities he’s developed.

    “They are a second family,” he said. “I feel like you get more out of JROTC team-wise than sports because you have a student-led organization that builds you up as a person through character and leadership."

    “This corps has really helped me become a better person physically and mentally. I’ve become more extroverted in high school because of JROTC…and I’ve learned how to be a good leader which is something that you really need to have throughout the rest of your life.”

    With the assurance of knowing their teammates are beside them, Cadets felt ready to compete on a national stage for a chance at the title.

    Emmanuelle Mefrige is a senior at Central Catholic High School’s sister school, Providence Catholic. She was especially looking forward to competing in Armed Inspection – an event where judges score based off a team’s knowledge, military bearing, and overall professional appearance.

    The judges intentionally pack on the pressure to test Cadet’s abilities to remain calm under intense scrutiny.

    “I’m a very loud person, I love to yell…I like being able to catch them off-guard and show them that I know the knowledge and scream in their face,” Mefrige said. “The atmosphere inside the inspection room is crazy. Once the inspectors step out on the platoon its nonstop chaos, nonstop yelling and for some reason that calms me.”

    For Mefrige, this will be her last time competing at nationals.

    With graduation looming and a college career just a few months away, she is grateful for the leadership opportunities and exposure to real-life situations JROTC provided her the last four years.

    “JROTC is based on teamwork, and you can’t succeed on any of the teams without working together,” Mefrige said. “You have to love your team or learn how to respect them and be professional about working with them.”

    “That’s something that I know I’m going to take with me, if learning how to do things in a professional manner. I think that’s what kept me in JROTC, not only the team and the community, but the things that I was learning in the program that I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere else.”

    JROTC is one of the largest character development and citizenship programs for youth in the world, currently operating in over 1,700 high schools. JROTC aims to motivate students to be better citizens and develop a sense of personal responsibility as they move throughout the different stages of life.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.07.2023
    Date Posted: 05.07.2023 19:34
    Story ID: 444207
    Location: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, US

    Web Views: 650
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN