Thursday, May 3, 2012

ROTC cadets test strength, endurance in PT

It’s all about endurance.

By Elyse Glahn, Guest Writer

Pacific Lutheran Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets work out at 6 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for physical training, or PT. Some weeks they devote more mornings to ROTC.


Throughout PT, ROTC men and women endure harsh weather conditions, physical limitations and sleep deprivation. On top of the exercises themselves, cadets are graded on accuracy.

The ROTC physical and mental exercises will prepare the cadets for real-life situations in future military careers. This training is comparable to those used for athletic teams.

“PT is an intricate part of the success in ROTC,” junior Brendan Meehan said. Meehan said it keeps the cadets in shape and uses a sense of team seen in sports and clubs.

Cadets also use the time after PT to talk about upcoming classes and how best to prepare for other ROTC-related activities.

“In a way, it prepares us for everything,” Meehan said.

PT itself, though, is straight conditioning.

It involves a five-minute warm up, body strength workout and core exercises. After this, the cadets do some form of cardiovascular workout, which includes stairs or hill sprints. They usually run two to three miles, sometimes five miles to Sprinker Tennis & Ice Rink.

ROTC cadets work through all weather conditions. Herbison said the only time they may not run is when it is icy, which may cause injury. Otherwise, cadets exercise in the field house.

The cadets are broken up into four groups based on skill and strength. In the case of an injury, there are designated “fallouts” within each group who take care of the injured as well as those who are sick or slower. Their job is to make sure everyone gets back safe.

“These fallouts are usually more in shape than the other cadets, so when they need to go back and help they aren’t really missing out on losing the workout,” Herbison said.

The cadets also do a lab every two weeks on Thursday mornings to devote time to something military-specific.

The cadets also sometimes go out on the golf course and practice patrolling and tactics as a lab.

Part of their training includes land navigation. Each cadet goes into the depths of the Fort Lewis woods alone at night where he or she tests his or her compass skills. 

“You get used to the woods,” Sergeant First Class Training Non-Commissioned Officer Justin Sheldon said. “It’s peaceful at night.”

The cadets are also tested every five to six weeks to evaluate their strengths and where they can improve. This will ultimately ensure PT workouts are effective.

“The time period in between provides ample time see development of cadets from the PT plan,” PT Officer in Charge Joseph Perez said.

The ROTC program focuses on training cadets to become leaders by their junior years. Once they become seniors, cadets will oversee the juniors and make sure they lead properly. This same strategy occurs in athletics when preparing athletes to become captains.

There are many aspects of ROTC that separate it from athletic groups on campus.

Most sports require athletes to practice in the afternoon. With ROTC, PT can start anywhere from 6-6:30 a.m. and conclude at 8 a.m. They are required to show up throughout the whole year.

“Most people in college stay up until midnight. With PT, you have to get up early,” senior Avery Herbison said. “It just doesn’t fit with the college lifestyle.” Herbison balanced lacrosse and ROTC his first year.

The abundance of regular college classes and social responsibilities can increase pressure surrounding ROTC.

According to Perez, PT and school are not difficult to balance with proper planning. The only necessary balancing has to do with cadets’ sleep schedules. He suggested sleeping later in the day and taking early classes into consideration.

“I had competent examples in the program who gave advice and forewarned of balancing a sleep schedule,” Perez said.