New Cadet Athletes Drill Early
LEXINGTON, Va., Aug. 14, 2012 – Last week, NCAA athletes took to the Parade Ground to prepare for the challenge of competing while in the Rat Line.
For the first time, operations sergeants Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bean and Sgt. 1st Class Carmelo Echevarria were on hand to assist Sgt. Maj. John Neel in teaching incoming soccer and football athletes basic drill commands.
“Having them has been incredibly great,” said Neel. “When I’m teaching they can walk around and make small adjustments.”
Neel has conducted drills for new athletes participating in NCAA fall sports for years, helping to set these athletes up for success.
“I think they helped a lot,” said Ty Garvin ’14, a linebacker on VMI’s football team. “Going through the Rat Line during football season was hard because we would we would miss a lot of the instruction time with cadre while we were at practice and meetings. Those drills taught us a lot of the basics of marching, rifle manual, and general military customs that we would have otherwise not had a chance to learn as well as others in our class.”
The intensive training sessions are designed to make up for some of the training time that athletes will lose because of their athletic obligations.
“This is almost a whole day worth of training,” Echevarria told new members of the football team during afternoon rifle drills. “So on Week One of school, when your corporals and sergeants have you, you’re not too far back.”
The athletes are learning the drill commands with enthusiasm.
“This group has been great,” said Bean, whose career includes time as a drill sergeant. “They’ve picked it up much quicker than a lot of the guys that I’ve seen come through basic training.”
Neel described the athletes he’s worked with as “smart and motivated.”
“It takes hours and hours to train them up to the VMI standard,” said Neel. “The others will get well ahead of them shortly, but we want to start them off right.”
–John Robertson IV