Oct. 5, 2012
Leadership, dedication, hard work, responsibility, and team work are just a few of many traits Division I athletics and the United States Marine Corps have in common. On Monday September 17th our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) met at TCF Bank Stadium for a special type of meeting led by four respected Officers of our United States Marine Corps. 1st Lieutenant Schroers, Major Gawronski, Gunnery Sergeant McGinnis, and Staff Sergeant Firstbrook began the evening by describing to our student-athletes the purpose of this partnership between the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Marine Corps. According to 1st Lieutenant Schroers this partnership will consist of “Two elite institutions dedicated to developing leaders! There is a lot we can learn from each other, and our goal is to relate what makes us successful as Marine Officers to U of M student-athletes. The leadership principles and traits of a good Marine Officer can directly translate to the classroom, field, court, and life.” With this in mind, our student-athletes embarked on a team building exercise prepared by the Officers.
Student-athletes participated in what the Marines called a “Tactical Decision Game” where each team simultaneously worked through a problem or dilemma while completing an obstacle course. 1st Lieutenant Schroers reported, “Teams had to move water jugs, ammo cans, packs, stretchers and casualties through the course as a team. Each team encountered an obstacle they had to negotiate (creating a bridge across a simulated water obstacle), working together to develop the best course of action. The course was physically and mentally challenging, as each team had to use their own creativity in coming up with a way to carry heavy equipment over approximately 800 meters. There was no right or wrong answer, but to be successful they had to be decisive, communicate, and work as a team.” Our student-athletes found this challenge to be difficult, yet extremely meaningful. It was a chance for them to hone skills such as communication, leadership, and teamwork; skills that they will need to develop throughout all facets of their lives.
Luke McAvoy a member of the Gopher Football team stated, “Learning how much student-athletes have in common with USMC Officers was eye opening; mostly the leadership skills that both groups demand to be successful. We got to participate in a team building exercise that they conduct during boot camp which promoted teamwork, but more importantly revealed who had good teamwork and leadership qualities”.
After reports from student-athletes and the Officers of the United States Marine Corps it is clear that this first interaction was not only successful, but eye-opening for each group. 1st Lieutenant Schroers reflected on the event saying, “Overall it was a fun event. Working with Division I student-athletes was great. Obviously as Marines we like to say we're the "Few and the Proud," which can also be said about D-I student-athletes. Our goal was to show them that even though they are all individually talented, they can all accomplish more as a team while also contributing to something meaningful, something larger than themselves.”
We look forward to the possibilities that this partnership between the University of Minnesota and the United States Marine Corps will bring for both our student-athletes as well as the Marine Officers.
- written by Caty Dongoske, Women's Track & Field