Tolman JROTC to serve as color guard for BrownURI football game
PAWTUCKET – How the Tolman High School Junior ROTC was chosen to serve as the color guard for Saturday night’s college football game between URI and host Brown dates back to last year and a conversation that Sergeant Major Scott Smith had with Brown University athletic director Jack Hayes.
After appearing on the Phil Estes Coaches Show to talk about Team RWB – short for Red, White, and Blue and purposely designed to help service members readjust to civilian life after getting discharged – Sgt. Smith suggested that if Brown football wished to have a color guard as part of the pregame pageantry, his Tolman cadets would jump at the chance to represent their school.
Thanks to staying in contact with the Brown athletic department throughout the spring and summer, Sgt. Smith was the beneficiary of proud news that was delivered when school started up against at Tolman in August. At approximately 6:50 at Brown Stadium on Saturday night, four Junior ROTC cadets will stand at midfield and post the colors for the national anthem.
The Junior ROTC program at Tolman High is now in its fourth year and features 85 students. Their patriotic association with the annual Governor’s Cup clash between the Bears and Rams represents the biggest stage the program has stepped on to date.
“Super proud moment,” said Sgt. Smith, who as the Marine instructor for the Tolman Junior ROTC unit shares the responsibilities and duties with Colonel Jeff Richardson, the Senior Marine instructor.
Representing the Junior ROTC program at Brown Stadium will be Tolman seniors Marie Paquin, Nicola Riccio, and Zulimar Berrios along with sophomore Mason Dineen. As the color guard commander, Paquin will carry the national colors while Riccio carries the Marine Corps colors. Carrying one of the riffles and standing to the right will be Dineen while standing with a riffle to the left of the colors will be Berrios.
They’ll be a backup member from the Tolman ROTC program on hand at Brown, sophomore Aylia Thomas.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids to display what they’ve learned,” said Sgt. Smith. “One of our extracurricular activities is color guard where the colors will be presented at a Tolman football or basketball game. We’ve also done soccer matches, the Veteran’s Day ceremony in Pawtucket, and the Bobby Doyle Road Race down in Narragansett.
“We start out with five or six cadets who express interest in doing this and have the ability to march,” Sgt. Smith added. “The idea is that once this gets going, the juniors and the seniors pick it up.”
Col. Richardson and Sgt. Smith will still supervise and make sure that everything is done correctly, yet the onus falls on the senior cadets to set the tone.
“It’s the upperclassmen who are teaching the younger kids how to carry the flag and the weapons and do the movements,” Sgt. Smith said. “It basically mirrors what you would see at a college-level ROTC program. You have the unit set up in a leadership position where the juniors and seniors are kind of running the show. It gives them a chance to flex their leadership muscles and learn how to teach.”
A dry run for the Tolman Junior ROTC program was staged prior to the Tolman-St. Raphael football game on Sept. 8. On Saturday night, they’ll be performing for a much larger audience that’s expected to include Governor Gina Raimondo.
“I told them there’s going to be thousands of people starring at you, watching your every move,” Sgt. Smith said. “I expect them to do fine.”