FORT BENNING, Ga. - ‘Dog Face’ soldiers with 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team teamed up with nearly 30 players of the Columbus Lions, the local Professional Indoor Football League team, March 21, for an anything-but-typical Friday morning at the Bolton Obstacle Course, Fort Benning, Ga.
The soldiers, from 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment; 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment; and Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, “drafted” the players onto their teams, broken down by battalions. The teams were then staggered throughout the obstacle course, and the light-hearted trash-talking began.
“I was scared, because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Columbus Lions’ kicker, Craig Camay. “[These] guys do this all the time and it’s intimidating.”
The partnership with the Lions is not new to the soldiers with the 3rd ABCT but because of the brigade’s deployment to Kuwait, a busy reset schedule, and the team’s training and season schedule, it has been nearly six months since the Lions were last on Fort Benning for a brigade event.
“We wanted to bring members of the community [to Fort Benning] to see what we do. This type of event builds teamwork, not just between the soldiers but the players as well,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Tinker, an operations sergeant with HHT, 3rd BSTB, and one of the event’s organizers. “A lot of the obstacles are ones that you can’t do by yourself. What you can do by yourself requires a lot of encouragement and support from your teammates and battle buddies.”
The teams had to complete 16 obstacles on the confidence course, including “The Tough One,” a confidence climb, the skyscraper and the incline wall, outlined in Appendix E of the Field Manual 7-22, Army Physical Readiness Training.
“The course forced me to conquer some of my fears,” said Camay, of Johannesburg, South Africa. “It challenges you mentally and physically and as a team.”
Camay said the worst part was the skyscraper, what he said he dubbed “The Tower of Terror,” because of its height.
The teams had to navigate the tower-like obstacle, approximately 30 feet tall, by jumping or climbing to the first floor and either climbing the corner posts or helping one another to the higher floors. Once they reached the fourth floor, they had to descend to the ground as a team.
“It was a lot of fun to see [the players’] reaction to some of the obstacles, especially the high ones,” said Pvt. Ashton Herr, an Oak Grove, Mo., native in 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. “I’ve always enjoyed physically challenging courses, as a kid and in basic training…it’s cool to see people without our training accomplish these things and push through their fears.”
Not only was the course a chance to foster a climate of team building, but to physically develop members and enhance their ability to work together effectively while building community relations, said Tinker,a Homer, N.Y., native.
For the players, it was a chance to have some fun before the rigorous demands of spring training camp set in.
“Once camp starts, it’s football football football, all the time. You’re practicing, you’re in the gym, you’re practicing again. It’s nice to be able to step away from the office, so to speak, and have some fun,” Camay said.
Camay and his team, with 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., took first place, finishing the course in 53:30. They were, also, the only team to go to the fourth level of the skyscraper before climbing back down.
“It’s good to finish this and be able to stick your chest out and say ‘I did that’,” said Camay, who hopes the partnership with the Soldiers will continue in the future.
“We appreciate and respect what you do. It’s unbelievable,” said Jason Gibson, Columbus Lions’ head coach and director of football operations. “I know I will never forget this, the guys will never forget this. We thank you for such a great opportunity.”